Handicapping Your Odds of Getting In

A graduate of the prestigious Naval Academy in Annapolis, he’s now a submarine officer who is fluent in Arabic. He had grown up on a farm, one of nine children and the only one to go to college. With a 700 GMAT and a 3.45 grade point average, he’s hoping to get into Stanford or Harvard for his MBA.

He’s a consultant who feels deeply passionate about health care and its many challenges. He wants to go to his dream school, Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, but has a 660 GMAT on the second try and a 3.4 GPA from Brigham Young University.

He already has a PhD in genetics and has already launched two companies including a biotech firm for which he raised $2.6 million in capital. He has taken the GRE and now wants to attend a top-notch business school to become a more effective leader.

Sandy Kreisberg, HBS Guru, in Harvard Square

What this trio of MBA applicants share in common with others 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 a reject pile?

Sanford “Sandy” Kreisberg, founder of MBA admissions consulting firm HBSGuru, is back again to analyze these and a few other profiles of actual MBA applicants who have shared their vital statistics with Poets&Quants. As he has for the past 15 times in this series, Kreisberg handicaps each potential applicant’s odds of getting into a top-ranked business school. 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 few more and have Kreisberg assess your chances in a follow-up feature.

Sandy’s honest assessment:

Mr. Submarine Officer

  • 700 GMAT
  • 3.45 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree from the Naval Academy
  • “After Annapolis, I went through the Navy’s demanding nuclear propulsion pipeline and became a submarine officer.”
  • Work experience includes stints as a reactor controls officer, a radiological controls officer and a tactical systems officer for 14 months on a submarine
  • “I took the ship’s radiological controls program from below average to above average in 8 months…I have the opportunity to get out in May or do a seven-month stint overseas as an operations officer in Bahrain”
  • Grew up on a farm, one of nine children and only one to go to college
  • Fluent in modern standard Arabic and conversational ability in German
  • Goal: To use the MBA to get into the energy industry (would love to get into projects management)
  • 28-year-old white male

Odds of Success:

Stanford: 20%
Harvard: 30% to 35%
MIT: 30%
Chicago: 40+%
Northwestern: 40+%

Sandy’s Analysis: The dirty little secret about service academy grads and HBS (and a bit MIT) is that your GPA really counts (along with any GMAT 700+ which you have).

Amazingly, what counts after that is extra curriculars, which are hard to come by on a submarine. Let me explain for our military readers. War stories all tend to blend in the adcom’s mind (but not mine!!! I love war stories, but then again, I’m not an adcom), but they expect some generic leadership blah, blah where you get to lead enlisted men. It doesn’t much matter if that is in battle or in the engine room of a submarine. Going to Bahrain will not add much to your application, in my humble opinion. My really strong advice is to use any college or service related extra curriculars, as well as sure, a couple of sub stories.

Your 3.45 and 700 are both lowish for HBS, so I think you are going to have a hard time there. MIT might go for the nuclear stuff and solid record (they don’t care about extra currics) and they like military but they like big GMATs more. You are in-line at Chicago and Kellogg and it is just a matter of solid execution. I ain’t seeing this as Stanford. There’s nothing driving you in. Growing up on a farm and being one of nine children is exotic, and will score well as back story, so it’s worth one HBS essay (Wish you had asked me about growing up on a farm with eight siblings, etc.) and can be used in other applications as well, obviously.

You might have gotten into Stanford if you grew up on a farm–as a slave.

  • S

    Forgot to mention:
    25 y.o.
    CFA level II candidate

    Been a volunteer for the last 2 years at a local math program teaching k-12 students advanced mathematics (these are baby geniuses learning game theory, algebra, modular arithmetic, etc). Took on leadership positions at my local toastmasters club for 2 years. Conducted undergraduate research for 3 years analyzing data from police departments to find embedded biases using statistical techniques. My mentor was a Harvard alum who know is a professor at Harvard and will write an excellent Rec.

  • Susana

    750 GMAT
    3.3 GPA UCLA Mathematics
    Female. Mexican. First in family to go to college.

    Work History:
    Data Scientist at online media company for year and a half (first 9 months while I was still finishing undergrad). Worked with big data, programmed in several computer languages, and made strategic recommendations to account managers based on statistical models.

    For the last three years been working as a Quant in asset management building mathematical models for trading equities. Only person from the research team to get in without holding an advance degree.

    Personal Background: grew up with an alcoholic father and domestic abuse. My mother raised 6 kids after leaving my dad while making less than 20k per year as an undocumented immigrant.

    Why I want B-School: I grew up thinking the best a kid from the ghetto could do was work as a server at a busy restaurant ans make big tips. When my dad was still around, I thought men were the leaders and girls just looked pretty, cooked dinner, and kept the house clean. I want to be part of corporate management at a tech company so girls growing up like me can have an example to look up to.

  • Ashishptl1@gmail.com

    Hello Sandy,

    Indian American Male raised in a small town in Georgia. First to go to college my family. First military service from anyone in the known history of my family.

    GMAT: 740
    Will take again to increase my chances. Goal is to get a 760+

    Georgia State University
    B.S. Physics; Concentration: Astronomy
    Overall 3.23 GPA
    3.6 GPA last 4 semesters.

    6 months research in neurophysics on single neuronal dynamics.

    2 year experience in rubber and plastics manufacturing for a mid-size private company as a process quality engineer and Internal Auditor.

    4+ years in the US Navy as a submarine officer. One of the first Indian American Submarines officers, if not the first.

    Navy training included: 3 months of officer candidate school, 12 months training on nuclear propulsion at Nuke Power Schools and Prototype. It is known as one of the toughest and most prestigious programs in the military. Also, 3 months with submarine navigation, oceanography, etc.

    Extracurricular: Hands on Atlanta, fighting hunger organization, human trafficking awareness organization, golf, surfing, Muay Thai.

    Fluent in Gujarati, Hindi, and of course English.
    Conversational Urdu.

    What are my chances for a top 15 MBA school? I will be 30 years of age at the time of Matriculation.

    Ultimate goal is to work as a strategy consultant for one of the big 3 firms and eventually enter into an executive level position at a fortune 100 company.

    Thank you!

  • Jonathan Yoshida

    Thank you for your help!

    Mr. Software Sales

    680 GMAT
    3.6 GPA from a regional liberal arts college in 2010
    Undergrad degree in History, but good grades in Micro/Macro economics, stats, and accounting

    Work with a top hot silicon valley software start up that is well funded and pre-IPO
    Have been promoted quickly to manage an inside sales team and have grown the team from 2 to 17 direct reports over the last 3 years.

    Extra-curriculars include – captain of college rugby team, experience on the national board of directors of an academic honors society, high school wrestling coach, many volunteer experiences. Also a violin player.

    26 year old 1/2 Japanese male

  • Michel El Hachem

    Mr. Civil Engineer

    720 GMAT
    3.75 GPA (First in promotion)
    Undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering from a non target University
    Masters degree in Engineering Management from a top regional school (Got accepted as a graduate assistant)
    After Achieving masters degree, I have been working with CCC, the leading construction company in the middle east, as a site engineer then got recently promoted into contacts engineer (a very selective job) with very high chances of promotion and upper management roles
    Grew up on in a relatively average family, only one to go to college
    Fluent in Arabic, French and English with basics in Spanish
    Goal: To use the MBA to get into the consulting industry
    26-year-old white male
    A professional swimmer (part of the university diversity team) and a reputable artist as well

  • Shailendra

    Thanks in advance for you help.
    Age- 26
    Indian Male
    Mining Engineering graduate from Indian School of Mines (IIT exam entrance). 5 years of work experience by the time of matriculation in 2013. 2.5 yrs in India (Business Dvelopment- Coal) and later 2.5 yrs in Indonesia (Mining) at a remote location for development of a coal mine. In India worked for expansion of my company’s coal business overseas. In Indonesia managed large pool of people for completing exploration & land acquisition within tough deadlines.
    GMAT – 750 (Q50, V41), GPA- 7.21/10 (absolute scale (topper student had only 8.1/10)) ~ 3.3 on U.S. scale (i think so).
    Excellent extracurriculars- mainly in the College Gym with 8 medals over 3 years at 3 gymnastic competitions, held an office, and awarded a University Blue- Gym for meritocratic performance and contribution to community. Held leadership positions at various cultural and sports events. Associated with an NGO in college and now in company’s CSR program for teaching underprivilidged kids basic math and english skills.
    Proficient in English, Hindi and Indonesian languages

    Schools- Duke, Wharton, Harvard, Kellogg, Tuck, Darden, Ross, UCLA, Columbia.

  • Mr Ilse

    Thanks for your help!

    – 750 GMAT
    – 2.80 GPA from (no ranking US University)
    – 2 years working at a billion dollar health care industry (similar to Ecolab and J&J) in purchasing and accounting role. (current)
    – At the same time 2 years volunteering at a small size non-profit organization to help disabled people overcome their hardship as a Treasurer and serve as member of the board of director. (current)
    – At the same time 2 years volunteering as a member of the board of director at a local dog shelter. (current)
    – My end goal of obtaining an MBA is to utilize the case study method, various business methods/modules and later to apply those practical and quantitative solutions to better serve and help achieve mission statements and goals of a non-profit organization.
    – Full Certified Management Accountant
    – Was a member of Student Government and volunteer at various local non-profit while at college.
    – A non US citizen & PR, currently working as a non-immigrant worker under H1-b1 visa.
    – Speaks 2 different languages and various dialect.

    I am planning to apply to:

  • Sneeze

    Handicap Me!

    I have a 730 GMAT score (49 Quant, 40 Verbal) and a 3.2 GPA from Univ. of Michigan. I did Teach For America for two years, held leadership positions within TFA, created my own social change program to help my students, and concurrently got my Masters in Education from the Univ. of Miami and had a 3.8 GPA. I am now the Asst Operations Manager for a national limo company and am doing very well. My end goal is to combine my passions of sports and education to become an Athletic Director of a major university and want my MBA in order to grow my leadership skills as well as enhance my knowledge of the financial and managerial aspects of being an A.D. I have done a lot of volunteer work in the past and was the captain on the Michigan volleyball team.

    I am applying to:
    UC Berkeley

    Please let me know what you think! Thanks!

  • scielle

    Here’s another one for ya –

    Ms Hippie (or Artsy, with a touch of finance!)
    – 710 GMAT (Q47, V41, AWA6)
    – 3.4 GPA (Finance, top Canadian uni, fast-tracked in 3 years; went to an auditioned arts high school before that – think Fame)
    – Work experiences: <1y at hedge fund (global, but unknown/ under-the-carpet, and now possibly imploded), 1.5yr in corp. finance at Icelandic bank (again, imploded, but great experience & story!), 2 yrs at boutique media & entertainment financial advisory shop (almost a family biz – though not my family; was hired entirely “at arm’s length”); worked in Canada and UK (all small shops since I didn’t want to be a number so very entrepreneurial experience)
    – Full CFA
    – Extracurricular:
    — Post- college: leadership role in national arts education organization (stage-managing, for last 8 years, but seasonal); started little digital film production company on the side (first feature film in production soon, but no complete project to show for it yet); independent consulting to digital media start-ups
    — College: lots of student theatre and broadcasting (20-30 hours per week, leadership roles); not much summer work as was doing 120% course load and summer courses; 4-month internship (20hr/ week) and 18 months part-time work (12hr/ week) both in publishing
    — Pre-college: gap year between high-school and uni (deferred admission & scholarships) to pursue full-time internships (relevant to my current work and post-MBA goals), volunteer, work, and travel; spent several months backpacking and supporting self through odd jobs on the road
    – Career goals: Corporate development/ strategic planning at blue-chip media company, followed by starting own media/ entertainment advisory shop
    – Started uni at 20 (due to 5-year high-school program and gap year), now 29
    – Immigrated to Canada from Eastern Bloc country at 11
    – Schools: UCLA, Haas (applied), NYU, Columbia (applying), HBS (is it even worth a try?), maybe USC (safety?); anywhere else I should apply?

  • clevernickname

    @ shorttherworld/trader friendly places,

    i am a prospective applicant so take it with a grain of salt, but i think that while those schools may be more trader-friendly in a vacuum, it isn’t the “school” that is reviewing your app. its someone in adcom. draw your own conclusions about the typical socio-economic background of someone that works in adcom, but the point that i am trying to make is that we still probably want to tone things down and tailor them to our target audience.

    specific example – uofc or mit MFE/PHD programs certainly know/value places outside the bulge bracket banks and recognize firms like rentech, drw, getco and deshaw, but i am not sure whether adcom for MBA programs are aware of these guys.

  • shorttheworld

    oh and a quick follow up sandy, id figure places like chicago, columbia, MIT maybe (or maybe not) are trading (prop trader at a family office) friendly places, but any others that are trader friendly? or which ones are NOT — i know HBS doesnt look at traders so friendly but what about cornell/Tuck/duke? neutral?

  • shorttheworld

    thx! yes understood, glad i was able to get a 48q 38V so my 700 is a bit ‘stronger’ than other 700s or maybe even 710 since i have both above the 80th percentile– but I know that it isnt a HIGH score overall . I’ve heard McKinsey was 700 needed so maybe a realistic 720 is what they look for . thanks again!


    Above 80 percent Quant is what many top B schools say they look for, as well as 80+ Verbal. But that is not ‘high’ score: schools which give you bonus points for high scores like MIT look for GMAT scores 750-760–not sure what Q part of that is, but it cannot be too low. Also, if you want job w. McKinsey, or Qunat Hedge Fund, having really high Q score is a plus and prob some score (~720) is cutoff.

  • shorttheworld

    hey sandy — saw you make this comment but what is considered a HIGH quant score? is it only 50 51? or 48 49, anything above 80th, is high? thx! (or anyone else who knows 😀 )

  • tsiro

    Depends where you wanna work in. For instance if you look at the US News Business school finance rankings (http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-business-schools/finance-rankings) you will see that the trio is not H/S/W but W/C/S (Wharton/Chicago/Stern). I observe that Stern has gone dramaticaly up over the years and has been investing a lot in innovating their programs, from MBA to global degree programs. Also last month one Stern’s professors has been awarded Nobel price in economics. There has also been released a very good report in P&Q very recently about GMAT and admission %. http://poetsandquants.com/2011/11/17/gmat-scores-slip-at-many-top-schools/2/ As you see, Stern is among the top 5 most selective business schools (possibly globally). With a school located in NYC, there is an aparent natural advantage and you will never go wrong with the school. The upward trajectory of the business school (top 10 overal and top 3 in finance) will probably follow the trajectory of its law school which is now a top 5 http://grad-schools (usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-law-schools/law-rankings). The table with admissions criteria earlier will also facilitate you check your odds with other top 10 business schools. For instance, chicago accepts 22%, Ross 32%, Kellogg 20% Duke 26%. They are all great schools. Hope this helps.

  • petergibbons

    24YO, White Male
    3.8 GPA at top 20 liberal arts college, Econ major
    770 GMAT (48V,49Q)
    WE: 2 years at top-tier management consulting firm, above-average in class, first from my school, mostly retail clients
    ECs: captain of varsity sports team in college, President of Business Club, led committee in student government. Nothing except running a marathon since college.
    Goals: Starting a sports apparel company
    Applying Round 2 at HBS, Stanford, Kellogg

  • jay

    Someone had mentioned this earlier, but I wanted to repost since it would be of tremendous use to me. I think a great story idea would be Sandy’s candid assessment of each of the top ten schools (you can use the P&Q ranking due out on Thursday). A lot of students (including myself barring a miracle this month) will likely have to choose between schools outside the H/S/W trio so a candid assessment of other top ten schools would help.

  • aripho

    Hi again back on this very interesting discussion. I made friends at both the MIT Fellows and HBS degrees. Certainly regarding HBS, I did not have the opportunity to get to know professors as extensively as I did during my MIT studies. Yet HBS professors socialized a lot with us, came to pubs, organized events (i.e red sox game ;)) etc. Its ultimately up to you to take the initiative to socialize with them and take advantage of the opportunity. Both MIT and HBS have their own interest to get some potential “consulting” opportunities from you/company so they, themselves, may make an extra effort since you are already an executive. This is more prominent at HBS however since professors there have I believe, higher practical background than in any other school. Generally though, post graduation schools organize all the time alumni + social events in your country and in other countries. I have personally made friends from such events as much as I did during my studies. Keep in mind that some students, as executives, tend to “dissapear” after they graduate given their highly busy lifestyle. The truth is that making friends and networks during MBA has a totally different “feeling” vs when u go to an executive level study. Friendships at age of 20-30 are different from those established during 35, 40+ but thats my opinion, you cannot beat that. So certainly there are trade offs and you cannot have the best of all worlds from one program. It all comes down to prioritizing your needs. Though as I mentioned above, you cannot go wrong with any of the programs. Certainly such programs are structured in such a way to address the needs of the new generation of leaders but also the difficult economic/employment condition worldwide.

  • shorttheworld

    agreed — sandy giving his time and time tested feedback on a short comment given by others is well worth it. its all ballpark and not exact physics of course but what else do you want from a free forum consultation?! 🙂

    PS plz pick me for next round woo!


    I’d also appreciate some feedback fr. the 80 or so people who have had profiles done on this thread, after Round 1 maybe, about what I said versus what happened.


    Hmmmmm, not sure what the fuss is about.
    This feature provides,

    (1) in a rotating play list, like that of a Top-40 AM radio show, the HIT truths of applying to B school, and not just the bland BS which passes for truth–yes, you will hear the same songs over again, but that comes with the territory. And I’d be suspicious of any consultant who kept changing his mind about is important.

    (2)It also provides on occassion, a real valuable tip to THAT applicant based on whatever profile I got to work with. One FALSE idea, promoted by adcoms, is that in order to get into program X or Y you need to stand out. That is part of the uber-Adcom myth that anyone can get into any program if only you squeeze your story tightly enuf to release the one unique genome that is hiding deep within your life and experiences. That, of course, is total BS, and if you got a 3.2, a 650 GMAT and a Tier-2 job, you aint getting into H/S/W no matter if you hired Google to actually do a computer run of your genome. The more correct truth is that in order to get in YOU NEED TO FIT IN, not stand out. One thing I can do, on occassion, is help profile writers see the difference and guide them as to what to stress in order to do that.

    The point being, as to above commetns, that minimizing my advice because I only have some gross anatomy look at your profile, and not your total DNA, is wrong-headed. In some cases, I dont need total, granular info. The myth that there is some secret “you” ready to emerge and conquer H/S/W etc is perhaps THE BIGGEST MYTH in B school admissions. FIT IN! Altho sure, what that means has sub-levels of meaning, often depending on your the particulars of your experience. But do not mimimize the predictiveness and importance of the basic profiles we work with here.
    I can also, on occassion, catch some subtle chip your shoulder or misconception about your story or goals, etc. fr. original posts I work with, which are often edited down for publication, and I include those as well.

    Sooo, we got 1. some good basic info about applying, repeaeted in a bouncy way, 2. some occassionally spot-on advice for applicants who provide profiles, and 3. what I hope is a more active user community, e.g. the posts on the exec-ed choices at HBS, Stan and MIT in this thread.

    And it’s free. Am I missing something????

  • shorttheworld

    GPA: 2.7 ugrad but 3.3 business/econ, Econ major from UConn, 3.76 on 10 classes over a year from NYU SCPS
    Life Story : Parents had me while in HS, neither graduated HS, largely grew up on my own (was featured on a Dateline NBC (ABC?) segment about children raising themselves n grandparents helping back in ’93 ) since dad was working to provide for us while mom was in rehab for alcoholism and anorexia but she died when I was 11, left home at 17/college due to chaotic, negative environment and was fully independent since then.. worked near full time while in college to support self and that affected GPA
    Work Experience: Top performances at top tier prop shop for 4 years, heavily involved in mentoring/recruiting at work (outside of assigned duties)
    ECs :Leadership in International Relations, Cultural group, Student government in College, restarted Mentorship program at Alma Mater’s business school and member of young alum council on board of trustees, led tenants associatio nrepresenting 150 in my building in Dominican area of harlem against negligent landlord who refused repairs to force out rent-stabilized tenants and won ~300k in damages against them and reapairs for building
    GMAT: 700 48Q38V
    26 YO White male
    Interested in switching to more long term asset management/equity research

    Harvard — assuming a ding and didnt apply but curious

  • shorttheworld

    GPA: 2.7 ugrad but 3.3 business/econ, Econ major from UConn, 3.76 on 10 classes over a year from NYU SCPS
    Life Story : Parents had me while in HS, neither graduated HS, largely grew up on my own (was featured on a Dateline NBC (ABC?) segment about children raising themselves n grandparents helping back in ’93 ) since dad was working to provide for us while mom was in rehab for alcoholism and anorexia but she died when I was 11, left home at 17/college due to chaotic, negative environment and was fully independent since then
    Work Experience: Top performances at top tier prop shop for 4 years, heavily involved in mentoring/recruiting at work (outside of assigned duties)
    ECs :Leadership in International Relations, Cultural group, Student government in College, restarted Mentorship program at Alma Mater’s business school and member of young alum council on board of trustees, led tenants associatio nrepresenting 150 in my building in Dominican area of harlem against negligent landlord who refused repairs to force out rent-stabilized tenants and won ~300k in damages against them and reapairs for building
    GMAT: 700 48Q38V
    26 YO White male
    Interested in switching to more long term asset management/equity research

    Harvard — assuming a ding and didnt apply but curious 😀

  • Sandy

    Well Sandy is a veteran in this business, or perhaps a veteran at creating this industry of admission consulting. But I agree with D that your complete picture is not conveyed just by writing a paragrah about yourself. May be reaching out to him directly and working with him.

  • Mr. Biotech

    I can not speak for others, but even a ‘surface level’ sanity check — however cursory — is very helpful to me. Yes, maybe he doesnt know my whole story and maybe he has no clue as to what it is that I want to do long term or short term (details..) — but his very first statement in evaluating my profile was spot on.

    With the levels of anxiety this process creates — it only makes sense that the human psyche wants, nay needs, an external voice to placate some of the crazy thoughts that come up. I think he is providing value to both the reviewed and the readers.

  • D


    I did not mean to slight Sandy at all. I have a great deal of respect for his experience and the services he provides, but I think if one is truly interested in Sandy’s wisdom then they should just pay for it and hire him.

    These articles are good for surface level context. And yes, they are entertaining. However, some readers appear to be hanging on his every word, and that is what I find humorous.

    For those that are really interested in a more in depth assessment or consulting relationship with Sandy, why not add a portal to P&Q where more personalized (and meaningful) advice can be dispensed on a continuing basis.

    I love your site John, and I love your perosnal dedication. Keep up the good work.

  • D,

    Sandy a mere fortune teller? My friend, I beg to differ. Sandy brings much wisdom and perspective to these assessments. He does more than gaze into a mysterious ball and utter strange pronouncements. He does, in fact, know his stuff, having worked with thousands of applicants to these top schools on a full-time basis since 1995 and on a part-time basis stretching back to the 1970s. It’s true to say, by the way, that this truth teller is a man possessed and obsessed about the ins and outs of getting into especially Harvard Business School, Stanford, and Wharton. So this is why the multitude lines up outside his tent for a reading which tends to be a rather entertaining exercise as well.


  • D

    It is beyond humorous that so many “future business leaders” are so eagerly seeking the advice of a fortune teller.

    I think these articles are interesting in that they provide generic context about what the adcoms are looking for at each school, but I am concerned that some candidates keep on posting and re-posting their profiles hoping to have their fortunes told.

    I have half a mind to suggest that as a general rule, if you feel that you need to post your profile and have your odds of admission assessed, then save yourself the time and rest assured that you’re going to have a hard time getting into a top school. Even if you get help on the essays, the interviews are likely to show your insecurity and/or naivety.

  • MrFirstGen

    Might as well try again, right? I even took the time to compile an abridged version. Here goes nothing (thanks!):

    •26 yo (at matriculation) Caucasian male
    •BA: Economics, Minor: Anthropology (mid-tier UC)
    •GPA – 3.88/4.00
    •GMAT – 730

    •4 years in financial services at a large custody bank (1 year in operations and 3 years in internal consulting; two promotions along the way)

    •Team captain in recreational sports
    •Meaningful leadership role in local community service organization

    •Short-term: Strategy consulting at M/B/B
    •Long-term: VC/PE

    •First generation college student
    •Raised in single-parent household (never met the other parent)
    •Financed education by working full-time during college in a managerial capacity in retail (supervised 70+ employees)

    Target schools: Harvard, Stanford, Kellogg, Tuck, Sloan, Haas, Fuqua

  • BSchoolApplicant

    Hi Sandy,

    Thanks for your work. If you have a moment I would appreciate a quick evaluation.

    Here are my highlights:

    25 years old
    Gender: Male
    UG: Northeast, private, urban.
    3.47, cum laude (finance)
    GMAT: 710

    Extras: Volunteer for an international poverty alleviation organization
    Extensive international travel

    Professional: 3 yrs work experience at a clean-tech start up focusing on sales/marketing

    Post MBA goals: Transition to product management and ultimately social entrepreneurship



    Do you think I would be better served waiting a year or two to gain additional experience? How does age factor into admissions decisions?

    Thanks for all your help!


    Thanks, maybe you can shed some light on what I think is the key issue about networking. I believe the value of the program are contacts you make WHILE YOU ARE THERE. I am less certain that having a Sloan, Stanford, or HBS degree of some kind does you ALL THAT MUCH good networking (as opposed to kid w. MBA looking for job, YES, tag is helpful there). For instance, you are out of program for five years and uncover some guy you want to meet via alum network or linked-in. How much attention is that guy going to give 1. YOU, with X experience versus 2. Some other guy who also wants to meet him, with more close and compelling experience but who has a Stanford one-year degree vs. the HBS degree. Or exchange degrees, etc. I just dont buy that the degree opens any doors per se, and the whole program, for a networker, is a gamble to just there, meet people, and hussle for the year you are in the program. THAT is why my suggestion to the original Profile guy in Biotech (which he agrees with) is to go to Stanford. He will have a year to hussle and create a network, using Stan as the base, or given Biotech, maybe same at MIT (since Boston is allegedly a biotech hub). My question to you is how much new networking is enabled soley by the degree X years after you have graduated.
    I got lots of friends who are now several years out there as HBS and Wharton MBA’s etc. Given the choice of helping a random HBS grad or a grad fr. a different school, with a more compelling and valuable story (e.g. who can also help them), duh, they go w. self-interest over the sacred frigging class ring. Now maybe that is too stark an example, maybe there is some middle ground of alum events, blah, blah, where you can keep hussling 3, 5, 8 years out. That is what I want to know.
    You may or may not know, but when HBS admits a 2+2 class, there is a Facebook page for them, and as you might imagine, those kids are then solicited, often fr. kids at their own alma mater (we are talking college now) for advice etc. about 2+2. Guess what, the gets old real soon, and that page soon becomes private in various ways, and they tell their dear, dear alum “brothers and sisters” seeking advice to go jump in a lake. And who can blame them. Am I being too cynical. ALways glad to hear contrary evidence.

  • aripho

    re: discussion about Sloan Fellow MIT Stanford and HBS.

    I have actually been in both the MIT and the HBS programs and can offer greater insight. I did first the MIT and then the PLD @ HBS. I did this because I wanted to take advantage of the alumni networks of the 2 schools. As far as choice is concerned, It all depends on the preference of each individual- do you have enough time to participate into a FT program or are you extremely busy executive where leaving your business for a certain period of time is a no option? The quality of education is great at both Schools but I found HBS more practical. You go to class and when you go back to work u can apply your skills. Then back on campus. It is not true that you spend only 4 weeks on campus. You have to spend at least 6 weeks because you need to get the electives if you wanna go an extra step. Each day is 18+ hour of practical class discussions, simulations, case studies, you name it and loads of networking as well. I agree that it may not be the same as being FT on campus over one year but you need to count the academic hours and frequency of classes into the equation. As I said, its really a matter of taste and I found both programs great.

    From education and reputation quality standpoints, you have two great choices, and you won’t go wrong with either one. I suggest that you spend some time carefully examining any alumni data you can get your hands on, since you’ll be an alum WAY longer than you’ll be a student, and one of the key pieces in the value equation is the alumni network! Where are alums working and living? Do these business opportunities and locations appeal to you? At the same time, work your own network and try to find some alums from each school to talk to. You may get a sense right away which population will be a better fit for you…

  • ekg213

    target schools:
    Wharton, Columbia, NYU, Yale, Cornell, UCLA, USC

    sorry for the additions

  • ekg213

    I am also a reapplicant!

  • ekg213

    690 GMAT (planning to retake target 740)
    3.3 GPA major 3.9
    (low gap due to freshman, sophomore year)
    Undergraduate degree in finance from California State Univ.
    Work experience includes 3 years as corporate finance analyst at a textile/clothing manufacturer (private, 100mil revenue)
    two years in Ministry of Finance and Economy at a City Hall (annual budget 2 billion)
    intern experience at Wells Fargo Securities & Deloitte(public sector)

    Grew up in Middle East, Different parts of Asia, and in U.S. Dad was CEO at Asian blue-chip (listed NYSE)

    Fluent in Japanese and Korean
    Passed CFA level 1

    Goal: To use the MBA to get into Operations Consulting(corporate finance) ,Financial Advisory at BIg 4, restructuring finance, or treasury at F500.

    29-year-old (@ matriculation) east asian male

  • OpenWindow84

    Hi Sandy,

    Regarding your GMAT/GRE question: I took the GMAT last year. Struggled with the quant side. Got a 640 (can’t remember the numerical breakdown, but it was something like 43rd percentile math vs 88th percentile verbal). Just took the GRE (new version) and scored a 158 math / 163 verbal (79th and 91st percentile respectively).

    Gender: Male
    Ethnicity: White
    Age: 27 (28 at matriculation)

    BA in Economics, minor in Government.
    3.89 GPA from a small liberal arts college (University of Redlands).

    -Graduated Summa Cum Laude / Phi Beta Kappa
    -Captain of the men’s Diving Team
    -Heavily involved in student government
    -Treasurer for the Economics Society
    -Studied abroad in London (UCL)
    -Traveled for a semester backpacking through Patagonia with Outward Bound doing several service projects
    -Since College have been heavily involved in Team in Training (marathon and triathlon mentor and team captain)

    2.5 years as a research associate at a small hedge fund.
    1 year working as an independent contractor for several start-ups doing business development and research projects after the hedge fund went under (during the financial crisis). I’ve since been working for a boutique investor relations / financial media consulting firm where I’m a senior analyst . The firm is very small but several of my clients are large public companies.
    Have been working there for a little over a year and am now interested in going to business school as I’d like to work internally for a retail / consumer brand in a marketing / communications capacity.

    I realize my career progression story is a little complicated (career change from finance to marketing). But my angle is to leverage my experience managing financial media and communications into an internal marcom job.

    Target schools:
    Kellogg, Yale, Columbia, NYU (long shots)
    Vanderbilt, Duke, Texas, Emory, UNC, Georgetown (maybe?)

    Any thoughts you have on my chances would be greatly appreciated.


  • hbsguru :-(

    Well, I’m not sure this is a no-brainer. The issue seems to be how much actual ‘networking’ you will get at each program, not whether HBS in general is good for networking. The HBS program does not have a lot of facetime with fellow classmates or profs etc. Call me a Luddite, but some ‘simulated team’ online contest is not exactly like Steve Jobs going to those Homebrew Clubs in the early days and turning up Woz, or however he met him, you get the idea.
    I got no dog in this ‘fight’– and it is not even a fight– but I do like clarity and talking at some real granular user level. I do know for real that the Stan and MIT programs, esp. the Stan one, allows you schmooze with profs, and more importantly, just hang out at Stanford, and esp. for the Gen Tech guy, who already has a toehold in the business, and is not looking for some Cinderella change of career, the chances of networking seem better to me with one-year at Stanford, where he soak up the scene, and hussle, than they do w. what appears to be YET ANOTHER cash cow HBS brand extension program dreamt up by McKinsey consultants (no kidding, HBS does hire McK to pump up the volume, or it has). I am glad to hear about this new-ish HBS program and I will be glad to hear more, but I’d prefer remarks that seem true to actual experience, and not remarks which seems driven by, dare I say it, covert marketing champions. I mean, glad to hear all remarks, but the first two HBS posters seemed to my tin ear to have too many links, too much data, and too much “sale” –if those two guys are just happy and well-informed general readers, who enjoy polished posting, well, I salute you, but if you are attending the program or work for it, or HBS, or have any connection etc. etc. please let us know, I got no beef with that either, just nice to know. As noted, I am glad to find out about this program, so thank you for putting it in play–now let’s find out more.

  • oneway

    Guys, this is a no brainer- HBS for sure. I am even very surprised why you even take the time to compare the programs.

  • schooloptions

    The above discussions appear to be very interesting indeed. It is all a matter of preference. There is another option for busy and highly successful people who do not want to spend too much time on campus to pursue the EMBA at MIT (its new program). I like the PLD idea very much but it also much depends if one wants to have an “MBA” tag. If you care about networking opps and business chool name, then HBS all the way- its global reputation is far and above any other business schools that exist on this planet.

  • innovation

    Thank you business connect for pointing this program out. In fact I have known many people in your situation (Mr. Biotech) that have indeed attended the HBS program. Let me point out that you can find people with Stanford and MIT Masters Degrees attending it. The feedback I got is:

    – The caliber of people that attend it is extremely high
    – The blend of student diversity is unprecedented
    – The alumni network of HBS is 70k+ (http://www.alumni.hbs.edu/careers/networking.html), whereas that of Stanford is 26k+ (http://alumni.gsb.stanford.edu/about/alumni.html) and MIT 20K+ (http://mitsloan.mit.edu/alumni/directory-gate.php) Making HBS Alumni members double as many as the combined number of Stanford and MIT Alums.
    – As rightly pointed above, you can in fact chose a set of electives for the PLD program in order to graduate as an HBS alum. For example, check this out (Strategy in biotech): http://www.exed.hbs.edu/programs/lspb/Pages/default.aspx
    At the same time, since you are interested in PE/VC, you can combine the above (or any other elective in innovation or strategy) with the Private Equity Program at HBS: http://www.exed.hbs.edu/programs/pevc/Pages/objectives.aspx

    I heard that the PEVC program at HBS alone has an admissions rate of 25%, (far lower than most top tier EMBA programs) with alum from top tier business schools such as HBS, Wharton, Columbia, Yale, who work in the very best PEVC firms around the globe including India and Brazil.
    – Finally Sloan program is full time therefore the opportunity cost is really high at your level- you want at the same time to drive your business growth and not sacrifice time for being on campus.

    Therefore, do not underestimate the above solution- it gives you much more flexibility and far better networks than the other schools mentioned above and certainly the international prestige of HBS.

    Keep in mind that this is an innovative program, but yet HBS is on the forefront of business education being the first who had established the MBA program in 1908 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Master_of_Business_Administration .It appears that HBS, having realized the market changes and needs of highly successful people like Mr Biotech, is again on the forefront of innovation in education.

  • busconnect

    In fact electives in entrepreneurship and innovation into the HBS program can be plugged in if one wishes; or electives in private equity, M&A or negotiations, strategy etc; even electives for strategy in biotech firms..
    More info is here: http://www.exed.hbs.edu/landing/Pages/executivemba.aspx
    The beauty of it, while highly competitive, is that it is also very flexible. What you see is the core program, you do need the electives if you want to graduate as an HBS alum. As for the off line module. If you read the program carefully, there is a strategy simulation where you run, with your team, your own company and compete with other teams.

  • Mr. Biotech

    First, Thanks for the evaluation. You are spot on with networking probably being the biggest thing I will get out of business school.

    Let me answer the WTF question in more detail — I want to burn the current model of VC funding in emerging economies (where there is huge potential for startups) and establish a path of much less resistance to seed money and mentorship — effectively removing or reducing the inefficiencies of the process. Think Startup Chile on steroids. My financial know how is all self taught (you can see the books I have on the shelves at home), and admittedly weak at best. Being taught didactically can lead to stints in VC/consulting where I get to learn de rigueur finance as well as its deficits, allowing me to break it down and rebuild it to suit the needs of the entrepreneur in India/Brazil etc. Also.. by def programs like Im envisioning need a person with significant contacts in the finance, entrepreneurship, corporate and legal worlds — hence the B-school network and a stint in VC as well as successful exit for my healthcare IT company are of tantamount importance.

    Secondly, I agree with sandy on PLD program at HBS — not for me! The sloan program is very enticing. And with a application deadline in May, i can wait to see what happens with my 2nd round apps before sending it in. Thanks to busconnect to pointing out those programs though.

  • hbsguru :-(

    AS TO BELOW, MAYBE, sure check it out, but that program is mostly for peeps w. 10 year experience in one org who want to stay in that org; it only has 4 weeks (two modules) of actual campus stay, the rest is online BS. The advantage of the Sloan/Stanford programs I recommended are in terms of networking, you actually spend a year on campus and can meet profs and VC’s etc. And I have first-hand exp w. Stan-Sloan, it does attract entrepeneurs and THINK DIFFERENT types while the HBS program is meant, it looks, for goody-goody Org types. If anyone has diff info, please post.
    The fact that HBS dean recommneds it, well……….. I’m sure deans at Sloan and Stanford reco their programs as well.

    Also, check this out: http://www.exed.hbs.edu/assets/Documents/alternative-executive-mba-brochure.pdf

  • busconnect

    The above post refers to the Mr. Biotech type

  • busconnect

    Also, check this out: http://www.exed.hbs.edu/assets/Documents/alternative-executive-mba-brochure.pdf

    Spectacular program and even the HBS dean is sending his people there 😉


    Highly competitive to get in and perfectly match the needs of very successful people like you.

  • Mr.PharmatoBus

    Hi Sandy, you had suggested in an email that i put my profile on this site somewhere to get an appraisal of my odds, so here it is. Thanks in advance, any insight you could give would be appreciated.

    Gender: Male
    Age: 25
    Degrees: BSE and MSE in Biomedical Engineering from University of Michigan – Ann Arbor
    Undergrad GPA; 3.33 of 4.00 and Graduate GPA of 6.88 of 9.0
    GMAT: 710/92% with V39/87% and Q48/80% (first attempt was a 640/74%)
    Post Graduate Work Experience: Merck Pharmaceuticals for 3 years as a Staff Engineer for PNEUMOVAX(R)23
    Career Interests: Management/Strategy Consulting and/or Operations Management
    Extracurricular Activities: Nothing appreciable in terms of charity/volunteer work. I enjoy some sports, especially martial arts; I have a 3rd degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do.
    Schools: Sloan and Stern are my favorites, Columbia, Kellogg, Wharton, Fuqua, Booth, Ross, and maybe Harvard if you think I can get in. Other than looking at the U.S. News rankings I have not spent too much time narrowing my schools. I could use some help with this to be honest. I like the idea of schools with large/global networks.

  • BobTheBuilder

    Thank you – I really appreciate the analysis. You’ve confirmed pretty much everything I was thinking.

    I know this is not the forum to follow up on, so please email me if you’re up for a round of follow up questions.

  • Hi Sandy,

    First of thank you very much in advising us in the B- School application process.

    Academics : Bachelor of engineering in Production Engineering stream – First Class with distinction from top ( Non-IIT) Indian University. Upward trend in four years of engineering.

    GMAT – Yet to be taken ( Target based on practice tests – 700)

    Professional Experience: 6.5 years till date.

    1. Operational Consulting at Boutique (small) consulting firm – 2.5 years – Significant achievements – cost savings in all 9 assignments – clients included from car manufacturing ( Honda) to beer manufacturing. Experience of leading cross functional teams.

    2. Mahindra ( Top3 Automobile manufactures in India) : Industrial Engineer at India’s biggest Greenfield project – 2.5 years. Entire manpower planning using quantitative work measurements techniques, interviewing more than 300 workmen, selected 180 of them, training coordination to groom, train them through rigorous training program. Significant leadership experience and cost saving through manpower reduction

    3. Volkswagen India ( Currently working for last 1.5 years) : Industrial Engineer + productivity improvement through Lean manufacturing. Leading a 12 member cross functional/ multicultural team in productivity improvement at shop floor. Significant ( read as $400K) cost saving through manpower reduction.

    Extracurricular :

    1. Meditation – Dedicated habit 40 minutes/ day for last 9 years. Currently writing a book to reflect upon this experience. To be published in next 3 months.

    2. Volunteering – Co-founded a 25 member volunteer group in 2008. Since then volunteering 4 hours/ week till date. Good leadership and teamwork experience to talk about.

    3. Writing – Published a case study on company website when I worked as consultant. Published 2 articles in leading newspaper in India. Published an articles in Mahindra’s newsletter. Clear-admit BOB award – my blog on MBA journey.

    Career goals and School

    I want to apply to following schools ( as per priority) after 2 years :

    Harvard, Stanford, Tuck, Wharton

    In the short term & long term I want to work with non-profits, I am really passionate about it & it gives me immense satisfaction.
    With this experience, now, I want to join ‘ Teach for India Fellowship’ ( TFI -very similar to Teach for America) for 2 years & then apply to business schools. I want to test my professionally developed skills ( Planning, organizing, teamwork, result orientation) in a non-profit , challenging environment. This experience will prepare me for my short term & long term goal of working with non-profits and also connect my experience with non-profits. Also it will significantly add to diversity in my profile ( Engineering + Writter ( with published books in 2 years) + dedicated meditation habit + TFI non profit leadership experiences)

    1. What is your take on my profile as of now?

    2. How do you think about my plan to go for TFI for 2 years and apply to B-schools?

    3. What are my chances if I apply now or when I apply after 2 years after my Fellowship.

    4. Which schools would be better fit considering my profile after 2 years.

  • worthashot

    ^^^^^^forgot to mention^^^^^^^
    Finance major. Member of schools honors college, writing honors thesis on factors that led to banking crisis. Extracurricular activities – member of DECA and a bunch of volunteering including at St. Judes Children Hospital

  • worthashot

    Attended a community college for a semester – 4.0 gpa.
    Took a year off and managed a restaurant at 18 years old. Then founded a company that, while profitable, was only enough for me to pay my rent at my apartment so I decided to go back to school.
    At southern public university, graduating in the fall. 4.0 GPA. 720 GMAT

    Chances for HBS 2+2, Stanford, Wharton, Tuck

  • Sandy,

    I’ve noticed you’ve featured two military applicants in a row, so I figured, “what the hell?” Let’s see if he’ll go for the hat trick.

    700 GMAT (49Q, 35V)
    Undergrad: 3.1, BS Mechanical Engineering, Penn State
    Grad: 3.7, MSE Civil Engineering, Arizona State (earned in 1-year while on active duty)
    Registered Professional Engineer in the state of Arizona

    Work Highlights: 9 years in the US Navy – Lieutenant.

    – Managed the supply chain and operating budget of an 8-aircraft, 250-person squadron. Completed two deployments onboard an aircraft carrier.

    – Seabee Company Commander responsible for the tactical and construction proficiency of 140 plumbers and construction electricians. Also responsible for the 600-person battalion’s chemical, biological, and radiological (CBR) defenses. Deployed to Kuwait for six months.

    – Officer-in-Charge of a group of 28 Seabees deployed to South Korea for 7-months that constructed a 1600 linear feet emergency service road and a pre-engineered building onboard a US Naval base. Conducted a joint-nation exercise with Republic of Korea forces that involved Airfield Damage Repair and contingency structure construction. Involved in a community relations project that required the clearing of trees and brushes at a local orphanage.

    (If you’re not sure what a Seabee is, check out John Wayne’s “Fighting Seabees”)

    – Selected for promotion to Lieutenant Commander.


    – Volunteered to recruit prospective naval officers at career fairs while assigned to Arizona State. Recruiters are typically human resources types that have never deployed – I was able to offer first person insight to potential recruits as to what a Civil Engineer Corps officer does.

    – Heavily involved in local Penn State alumni association, notably college recruiting.

    – Have been in charge of fundraising/marketing multiple years for the annual Seabee Birthday Ball. Am the chairman with overall responsibility for this year’s local Seabee Ball that historically draws 650-700 people.

    32yo, male, will turn 34 in Fall of 2013 when I plan to matriculate.

    Why an MBA: Interested in making a career switch to Marketing/Brand Management. Industry not as important, would be happy with CPG, financial services, luxury/retail, etc. As long as it’s a product or service that I personally like and believe in.

    Why an MBA at my age: Decided during graduate school that I wanted to make the career switch, but at that point had incurred an additional 3-year active duty obligation (due to grad school) that I am currently fulfilling.