What Are Your Odds of Getting In?

by John A. Byrne on Print Print

Mr. Banker

  • 730 GMAT
  • 3.88 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in economics from a mid-tier University of California campus
  • Work experience includes four years in financial services at a custody bank, in fund accounting for nine months and in project/business analysis for a little over three years. Given high-profile and prestigious assignment across country to help transition a legacy accounting platform to a standard accounting.
  • Extracurricular involvement as a team captain in recreational basketball for one year and one-half and a leadership role in a community service organization
  • First-generation college grad
  • Raised in a single-parent household
  • Goals: Short-term is to get into strategy consulting while long-term goal is to get into venture capital or private equity
  • 26-year-old Caucasian male

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 15%
Stanford: 10%
Wharton: 20-30%
Northwestern: 30+%
MIT: 30+%
Berkeley: 20% to 30%

Sandy’s Analysis: Hmmmmm, mid-tier UC and some boring set of jobs at a custody bank. Well, you can spin what you do there however you want, but custody bank = bye bye at Harvard and Stanford for non-minorities.  You are competing with dudes from Ivies and Public Ivies with the same stats and gold plate jobs in investment banking, management consulting, and private equity. Also, the fact you stayed there for four years is a negative.  What you were supposed to do, in their minds, was get a better job after two years.

As noted, schools understand why a guy like you would start at mid-tier UC, but many guys like you got into Berkeley.  Wharton might buy this, on numbers alone and a sympathetic back story.

Your extras are OK but not door busters.  The extras will help you at Kellogg, which is your natural fighting weight, although, as noted, you might punch up to Wharton.  Sloan is hard to predict. Aside from solid numbers, this is not a story full of the so-called “innovation” they claim to be looking for. On the other hand, they might respect your operations background and secretly figure you will drift back to it.

Sorry to be a bit negative, I respect your story. Staying at that job for four years was a big mistake in this game and the right move in every other game. So you got caught in some odd wind shear.

The upside is that any one of those places can be a platform for a consulting gig –moving out of that into VC/PE with no prior experience in I-banking, well, that could be hard.

Handicapping Your MBA Odds–The Entire Series

Part I: Handicapping Your Shot At a Top Business School

Part II: Your Chances of Getting In

Part III: Your Chances of Getting In

Part IV: Handicapping Your Odds of Getting In

Part V: Can You Get Into HBS, Stanford or Wharton?

Part VI: Handicapping Your Dream School Odds

Part VII: Handicapping Your MBA Odds

Part VIII: Getting Through The Elite B-School Screen

Part IX: Handicapping Your B-School Chances

Part X: What Are Your Odds of Getting In?

Part XI: Breaking Through the Elite B-School Screen

Part XII: Handicapping Your B-School Odds

Part XIII: Predicting Your Odds of Getting In

Part XIV: Handicapping Your MBA Odds

Part XV: Assessing Your Odds of Getting In

Part XVI: Handicapping Your Odds of Getting In



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  • Ann

    Hi Sandy:
    Would really appreciate if you can help evaluate my profile-
    Background – 31 yrs Indian, female
    Education – Undergrad in Architecture (GPA ~3.1) and Postgrad in Urban Planning (GPA ~3.8). Won a National Award (given to Students of Urban Planning & Design) for my Masters Thesis. Exchange program with an architecture school on Greece (apparently one of the oldest architecture schools) during undergrad.
    Professional experience – About 6 years of experience in Urban Development, Real Estate and Infrastructure Advisory. 3 yrs with the Economic Development and Strategic Planning team of the world’s largest Engineering firm based out of their Asia HQ in Singapore. 3 yrs (and ongoing) with Infrastructure and Real Estate Transaction Advisory Services for one of the Big 4 in India. Done projects across India, Malaysia, Vietnam, China, Cambodia, UAE, US. Projects include Public-Private Partnerships for Urban Infrastructure Development, Special Economic Zones, New Town Development, etc. Currently, lead the regional (North India) practice and a team at the Big 4.
    GMAT – 720
    Extra curricular – College Captain during undergrad, responsible for Annual College Festival. 2 papers rgdg. Urban Poverty and Development published in International Journals. Did voluntary research work for a Dutch Development Institute in India regarding conditions of some slum settlements, led to funding for select infrastructure upgradation in these slums. Member of United Nations Association of Singapore (not very active though).
    Schools – H/S/W, Berkley, MIT, Tuck, Booth, LBS

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