Assessing Your Odds of Getting In

She’s a self-styled hippie, an artsy type who has worked for a hedge fund, an imploded Icelandic Bank and a media and entertainment boutique. With a 710 GMAT and a 3.4 grade point average, this 29-year-old woman hopes to use her MBA to gain a corporate development or strategic planning job for a blue-chip media company.

After a two-year stint with Teach for America, he settled into a job as the assistant operations manager for a national limo company. With a 730 GMAT and a 3.8 GPA in a master’s of education program, he plans to use the MBA as a stepping stone to get his dream job as athletic director of a major university.

He’s a 28-year-old Spaniard who has been working in financial planning and analysis for a major European food company after a year in General Electric’s prestigious finance management program. He’s hoping to use an MBA to transition to an elite strategy consulting firm such as McKinsey, Bain or Boston Consulting Group.

Sandy Kreisberg, HBS Guru, in Harvard Square

What these MBA applicants 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 a reject pile?

Sanford “Sandy” Kreisberg, founder of MBA admissions consulting firm, is back again to analyze these and a few other profiles of actual MBA applicants who have shared their vital statistics with Poets&Quants.

In this, the 18th episode in our highly-popular handicapping stories, Kreisberg is at his tell-it-like-it-is finest. He advises one applicant to “bleach out all the hippie-dippie-do stuff.” He flatly tells another: “Your problem is not enough Blue Chip anything.”

As he has in the past, 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 assessment:

Ms. Hippie (with a touch of finance)

  • 710 GMAT
  • 3.4 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in finance from a top Canadian university
  • Work experience includes one year at a global “now possibly imploded” hedge fund, a year and one-half in corporate finance for a “imploded” Icelandic Bank, and two years at a boutique media and entertainment financial advisory shop that is family-owned
  • Have a full CFA
  • Extracurricular involvement in student theater and broadcasting in college and now have a leadership role in a national arts education organization; also started a small digital film production company with my first feature film in production soon
  • “Spent several months backpacking and supporting self through odd jobs on the road”
  • Goal: To move into corporate development/strategic planning for a blue-chip media company
  • 29-year-old woman who emigrated to Canada from an Eastern Bloc country at the age of 11

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 10%
Columbia: 20+%
NYU: 30%
UCLA: 30% to 50%
Berkeley: 30% to 40%
USC: 30% to 50+%

Sandy’s Analysis: Are you employed now? A good deal of this will turn on that. If not, you come off as someone who cannot keep a job, despite the number of jobs you have had, and your resume tilts towards what you yourself call, “Hippie with a touch of finance.” That is not a good handle for B-school.

On the other hand, if you are still working at the boutique media and advisory company, well, you are employed, if even at a ‘boutique’ in the field you want to wind up. It’s a big difference. Note to those unhappy with your jobs: Don’t quit until you get into B-school.  I know, sometimes you get fired or the firm goes blotto.


Beyond that, what we got here is imploding hedge funds, imploding Icelandic banks, and almost-family media boutiques. This might make a good movie of some sort, “The Girl With the CFA Tattoo” but to turn it into a powerful business school application, I would actually cut back on the all the artsy stuff.  The dirty little secret about business schools is that they hate artsy types, although they certainly welcome establishment ART types. How come?  For the same reason everyone else does—too much attitude and hot air about creativity and too little accomplishment.

So, my advice to you, if not employed, is to not sound too liberated about it, but instead earnest about returning to employment. Similarly, I would not sound dismissive or fey about those other oddball ‘imploding’ jobs (well, I can be dismissive about them) and figure out instead  how they could be a platform for current goals, how you learned x, y and z from them, even if that includes not wanting to do x and y.

The good news about you is that if you bleach out all the hippie-dippie-do stuff here we got a 3.4 in finance, a 710 GMAT, and some jobs that could be described as serious although, sure, not Tier 1.  I think you got a good chance at Haas and UCLA if that is the way you presented yourself. It’s so-so at NYU–they really hate ‘artistes’–  familiarity breeds contempt down there in the Village.  I don’t think you are getting in at Columbia because your stats are lowish and you seem relatively poor in terms of both family and job savings—this is a real issue for them, if you read John Byrne’s brilliant recent article here about The Financial Aid Arms Race among leading B- schools.

USC, sure, just don’t go artsy in the resume and app.  Although the goals you state are fine.

  • garg.sankalp


  • Starry Eyed Indian

    Please let me know about my chances of getting into the top 15. My brief profile is as follows…

    Starry Eyed Indian
    720 GMAT (88% verbal, 81% quant)
    Indian, male
    3.5 GPA
    Undergraduate study in Engineering and Post Graduate Diploma in Management from MDI Gurgaon, India (2010)
    More than 3 years of work experience…
    3 years in a leadership program at a foreign multinational bank
    – led a team of 110 and increased its productivity by 50%
    – managed revenues of pan-India branches of the bank
    – formulated and operationalized strategies for expansion of the bank
    Currently working as a management consultant (Financial Services) for a BIG 4 audit firm
    Co-founder and director of an not-for-profit organization for child welfare

    Goal: To pursue a global career with special focus on Investment Banking

  • Marketing Guru

    Please let me know about my chances of getting into the top 15 (preferably, schools with a strong focus on Marketing). My brief profile is as follows…

    Marketing Guru
    660 GMAT
    Indian, female, 36 yrs
    3.5 GPA
    Undergraduate study in Pharmacy (B. Pharm degree) and Post Graduate Diploma in Business Admisitration from Mumbai (graduated in 2001)
    A total of 13 years of work experience…
    7 years in a leadership role – Currently working as Senior Marketing Manager for a foregin multinational Bank, leading a team of 10 and managing the marketing budget for the entire bank.
    3.5 years in Market research
    3.5 years in Sales
    Also, teaching Marketing Research as a visiting faculty.
    Wanting to pursue a second MBA to upgrade my skill set and give a faster growth trajectory to my marketing career.
    Yoga enthusiast, Budding pianist
    Extracurricular involvement in social service activities like teaching, volunteering and fundraising for the old home and blind

    Goal: To manage a mutlbillion dollar global brand and eventually become a brand consultant

  • hbsguru

    it would help if you posted this on the most recent MY CHANCES edition —

    Handicapping Your Odds Of Getting In (11,595 views)

  • indianwoman

    Hi! I went through all profiles to see if there is a match with mine, but since I could not find any – request you to do an analysis please.

    Indian Woman, 27 years old
    GMAT score- 740
    Total 5 Years of work exp. 2 years as a management consultant in UAE, 3 years in New Delhi in Corporate HR in a French energy MNC handling talent management in a leadership role (building leadership pipeline, Competency assessments, development of potential).

    Undergraduate from Delhi University in Economics Honours with 70% (not sure how to convert in GPA), Post graduate diploma in HR management from a reputed Indian management institute with 7/10 CGPA.

    Extracurricular activities include Public Speaking, I hold leadership position in Toastmasters Club, also have formal training in Hindustani Classical vocal music

    Social Contribution – Counselling for Rape Victims in India – work for a Women’n NGO

    Goal: A career in consulting in Mckinsey post an MBA from Harvard/ Stanford

  • JohnAByrne

    Wow. That’s fantastic. Congratulations! Those are three great business schools and you will love Berkeley! Way to go.

  • Ms. Hippie

    An update from Ms. Hippie, above – am in at my top 3 choices: Berkeley, NYU and UCLA (with $$).  Did not end up applying to USC.  Probably matriculating at Berkeley. 

  • Ravi


    This series have been so helpful. Can you please evaluate my chances of getting into one of the top 10 schools((H, S, W, INSEAD, BOOTH, YALE, NYU, Kellog). Here is a brief background. I know Indian/Chinese candidates have very slim chances at these schools. However I was wondering whether my GC(permanent resident status in US) will help with the matter a little bit.

    INDIAN MALE(with a US Greencard)
    GMAT 730
    BS in computer science GPA 3.8
    MS in computer science GPA 3.75
    One of the very few guys selected to work with NASA on my Master’s thesis
    Great reviews and publications on NASA research papers.
    Work Exp: SAP Business business consultant for more than 7 yrs
    worked for fortune 500 companies including the biggest technology and media company in the world(current position)
    proven leadership skills at every stage of my career(I mean…really good recommendations)
    independent filmmaker – Worked on various short films at different capacities(Director, cinematographer, editor..etc)
    Diploma holder in Film Making
    involved in charity work..
    AGE 32(33 at metric)
    want to work for a management consulting firm, focussing on the film and media business.

    I would greatly appreciate your feedback on my profile.

  • TCho

    Is there a way you can put the roman numeral of the series entry in the title of the blog post? and also the date? It would help in keeping track of which ones I’ve read.

  • Mr. Confused

    Hi Sandy/ John,

    I understand there are hundreds of profiles above to select from, but I will be really grateful if you consider mine, since I already have an MBA and I would like to know my chances of getting an admit before applying. I am currently of the opinion that my application will not be viewed very seriously, because I seem to be getting my hands in too many things too soon.

    A brief background:

    Age: 25; Nationality: Indian
    GMAT: 740 (Q: 51, V: 39); AWA: 6.0
    MBA (2010): Top 5 B-schools in India; high GPA and ranked among top 5 in
    the batch (dean’s merit list)
    Engg. (2008): GPA of 9.4/10; ranked 2nd in my dept. and 4th. overall
    Certifications: CFA Level 3 Candidate
    Work Ex: Around 1 yr and 9 months. I hope to have around 3 years of work-
    ex. by the time I enroll. Currently working as a strategy
    consultant with a Big 4 firm in India (9 months) –
    with some international exposure in emerging markets. 1 year of
    exp. at a domestic brokerage firm as a product manager prior to
    that. Internships at a global FMCG major and a global
    Extra currics: Placement co-ordinator during my MBA, student’s union
    during engg., represented my MBA univ. in 4 sports, quite a
    few activities to show leadership and initiatives.
    Reason for MBA: I did not utilize my first MBA to the fullest (lack of work exp.
    – fresh out of college). Work-ex. (consulting engagements)
    have helped me realize what I want to do – start my own
    investment banking and management consulting firm
    (that would also provide professional and technical
    training), focusing on small businesses (fair bit of exposure
    to justify this claim). I intend to take courses on
    negotiations, entrepreneurship, private equity etc.
    Post MBA: work for VC/ PE in emerging markets, gain sufficient exposure on
    aspects like fund raising, business planning etc. and then return
    to India to start my venture.

    Schools: Wharton, Harvard, Booth, Stanford, Stern; also considering Yale
    and Kellogg

    Thanks for your help!

  • Ryan

    Age: 30
    Birth place: South Korea
    Citizenship: Canada
    Permanent resident in the US

    GMAT: 720 (Q85%/V87%)
    Undergrad: Top Canadian, Biological Sciences (GPA3.0)
    Grad: Top Canadian, Biological Science (GPA3.7)
    Top US Grad Extension School: Biotech Management courses (GPA 3.5)

    -WE1: 1.5 yr in Top Pharmaceutical co (research scientist in Canada)
    -WE2 (current): 4 yrs in another Top Pharmaceutical Co (research scientist in the US)
    1 promotion, 2 awards

    Co-founded a NPO
    Organized/led a group to volunteer at a remote leper town
    Organized conferences and raised donations (>$20,000)
    Church group (150members) leader
    Sports team captain and other leadership activities during/after college
    Rich volunteer activities

    Future goals
    -Consulting for healthcare/pharmaceutical companies
    -Establish a consulting firm with emphasis of NPO sustainability




    Dear Sandy and John,

    Thanks for this series – it’s been really helpful. While reading through the profiles, I have been wondering about one thing though:

    Is a higher GPA from a lower ranked school better for the applicant than a lower GPA from a higher ranked school? For example, 3.7 from UCLA vs 3.4 from Stanford. Or 3.7 from CSU Northridge vs 3.4 from Stanford.

    Thanks, and happy holidays!

    hmmmmm, tuff one, esp. the way you set it up. A 4.0 from
    Tier 2 school is better than a 3.4 fr. Stanford, esp. if you have resume parts (jobs, gmat) that show you ares diamond in the rough type: HSW always looking for that. A 3.7 fr. Tier 2 school, plus blah jobs and below ~700 gmat aint getting you anyplace. The kids who get into HSW fr. Tier 2 schools, esp. non-minorities, need real solid gpa plus some other WOW item, e.g. great jobs, etc. On the other hand, “average” gpa at H and S is 3.69, so a Stanford gpa of 3.4 would need some explaining, and some real EXTRA push, since that would be in bottom 25 pct of gpa pile, my guess. Sure, trend would count etc (e.g. rising gpa scores)and ‘difficulty’ of courses, etc. I’d say 3.7 from Tier 2 and 3.4 fr. Stanford –well both would have hard time at HSW unless you are talking minority, or powerful X factor. I’d say the non-minority cohort at HSW w. 3.4 or below (from anyplace) is maybe 10-15 pct of class, maybe less, so you gotta ask, e.g. at HBS, how did those 90 -110 kids get in? They had something going, and 90-110 could be overstated.

  • Ambitious College Kid


    Age: 22
    Citizenship: Indian (have lived in three countries)
    Undergraduate: American Public Ivy (top 2-3 public): college junior
    Major: Electrical Engineering + Economics
    GPA: 3.73 (strong improving trend)
    GMAT: 740

    Professional Experience:
    Fortune Top 50 tech firm research internship
    Fortune 500 F&B conglomerate tech internship
    Top 3 consulting firm work experience

    Other information:
    * Volunteer and fundraise every week for an orphanage
    * Teach illiterate children basic language and math (during school breaks)
    * Student athlete (intercollegiate)
    * President of an intramural sports club (different sport)
    * President of two on-campus (1 business and 1 engineering) clubs
    * Columnist for college newspaper
    * Have 1 undergraduate research publication (engineering)
    * First generation college
    * National and International Olympiads (math) in high school
    * CFA level 1
    * Speak 3 languages (other than English) and am learning Mandarin

    Looking to work in management consulting in a developing economy before business school and in a consumer-facing industry after an MBA.

    Schools/Programs applying to:
    HBS 2+2
    Yale Silver Scholars
    Stanford GSB

  • Tomo

    GMAT: 740
    GPA: 3.7
    Undergrad: Yale with a major in Psychology
    Work Experience: 4 years as a pop recording artist (signed to a major label with mainstream [not indie] releases) in Japan (singles charting in the top 50, if that is relevant)
    EC: founder and president of a volunteer organization (mentoring adoptees from other nations), extensive involvement in ethnic organizations
    Fluent in English, Japanese, Korean (latter two studied to the most advanced level in college)

    Wharton (Lauder Program), Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, Booth, Kellogg, Tuck

    I know I am a non-traditional applicant (I do not know of any other Japanese popstars applying to b-school) but I have been planning on business school from the beginning. I had initially planned on lining up a job in management at a top Japanese record label (did a summer internship at a top label) but ended up signing to a label instead when they asked me to audition after seeing a demo tape that I sent. I thought that working in the industry as an artist would give me a unique vantage point for when I transitioned to the management side. My eventual goal is to return to Japan/Asia (the market is increasingly becoming pan-Asian) and hopefully be in a unique position to do top management work at a major label.

  • Mike


    Apologies for the error in my prior post. My actual GMAT score is a 700 but a 47 in Math and a 40 in Verbal.


    Can you please perform an assessment of my profile? I would really appreciate it.

    GMAT: 700 (Math 40, Verbal 49)

    Completed Level 2 CFA (passed both levels on first try, taking level 3 in June)

    Undergrad: Finance Major at Rutgers Business School
    Cum. GPA: 3.7 (Finance GPA 3.9)

    Work Experience: 2 years at a top 5 bulge bracket investment bank. First year in a support role for the fixed income business. Second year working on regulatory reform at the bank (i.e: mitigating the impacts of the new regulations).

    Extracurriculars: Mentoring college students in an investment banking class, mentoring troubled youths from urban neighborhoods, Cancer Foundation, real estate investor.

    Recomendations: Should be able to secure recomendations from top executives at the bank that I for.

    Background: South Asian, 24 years old, first generation college graduate, worked full-time through college to pay for my tuition .

    Looking to shift from a support/regulatory role at a bank to a traditional Investment Banking role.

    I am looking at Harvard, Columbia, Booth, Kellogg, Tuck, Yale, Wharton, Fuqua.

    Feel free to recommend other schools which you think that I would have a better chance of being admitted to.

    Thank you so much. I appreciate your help.

  • Mike


    Can you please perform an assessment of my profile? I would really appreciate it.

    GMAT: 700 (Math 40, Verbal 49)

    Completed Level 2 CFA (passed both levels on first try, taking level 3 in June)

    Undergrad: Finance Major at Rutgers Business School
    Cum. GPA: 3.7 (Finance GPA 3.9)

    Work Experience: 2 years at a top 5 bulge bracket investment bank. First year in a support role for the fixed income business. Second year working on regulatory reform at the bank (i.e: mitigating the impacts of the new regulations).

    Extracurriculars: Mentoring college students in an investment banking class, mentoring troubled youths from urban neighborhoods, Cancer Foundation, real estate investor.

    Recomendations: Should be able to secure recomendations from top executives at the bank that I for.

    Background: South Asian, 24 years old, first generation college graduate, worked full-time through college to pay for my tuition .

    Looking to shift from a support/regulatory role at a bank to a traditional Investment Banking role.

    I am looking at Harvard, Columbia, Booth, Kellogg, Tuck, Yale, Wharton, Fuqua.

    Feel free to recommend other schools which you think that I would have a better chance of being admitted to.

    Thank you so much. I appreciate your help

  • Mr. Banker

    Hi guys,

    I enjoyed your recent article on playing the international card and would really appreciate your help in assessing my profile. It’s basically the profile of an international investment banker from a top firm who hasn’t really excelled academically. I also think it would be helpful with a general note on which schools have a preference towards bankers as opposed to consultants and vice versa. Also, a quick word on the importance of where you’ve worked and in which group or team would be interesting.

    GMAT: 710
    GPA: 3.0
    Undergrad: Scandinavia’s leading business undergrad (Stockholm School of Economics)
    Work Experience: Two years at Morgan Stanley in London (IBD in a top team)
    Extra curriculars: Limited but includes positions of trust in the student unions at high school and college
    Goals: To gain invaluable experiences which hopefully will enable me to reach leading positions in major Swedish companies in the long term future
    Applying to: Would love to spend two years in New York so NYU and Columbia at the very least, but would appreciate your thoughts on other schools as well.

    Thanks in advance,
    Mr. Banker

  • Hill Climber

    Hi Sandy and John,

    I’ve been following your series on P&Q for quite some time now and I find it one of the most informative and unique resources online. I would greatly appreciate your feedback on my odds of getting into a top-tier MBA program.

    I’m currently a mid level Congressional staffer handling Finance and Commerce Policy, and I would like to transition in to the private sector. I have an understanding of the regulatory side of finance and business, and I want to get private sector experience to get a real understanding of how finance and business work (thinking specifically corporate finance or consulting). I believe an MBA would help me make that jump. In addition to getting an MBA, I might consider a joint public policy degree. I would greatly appreciate your thoughts of my odds on getting into a top-tier MBA program and a joint MPP program. Any suggestions on how to make my application stronger or if I should make any career moves would be greatly appreciated as well!

    My Profile:

    * Male, 27 years old
    * 720 GMAT
    * 3.56 GPA
    * BA from a Midwestern “Ivy”
    * Work Experience: about 3 years as a Congressional staffer handling Finance and Commerce Policy. Previous two years include junior level campaign and political work.
    * Extracurriculars – Very involved with professional development organizations (leadership level) and was in student government in college.
    * Schools: HBS, Stanford, Yale, Booth, Kellog, MIT, Wharton, Stern, Columbia, and Darden

    Hill Climber

  • Ms. Family Business

    Hi Sandy and John,

    I would appreciate your feedback on my odds of getting in to some top tier programs. I would be applying next year.

    Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa from small, well-known liberal arts school (transferred from Duke). English degree, specialty in Creative Writing. Tuck Business Bridge summer program to augment background in quant. studies

    GPA: 3.95
    GMAT: 670 (taken in 2008)
    Extracurriculars: Began executive board for college newspaper, made newspaper profitable in one year, leadership positions in sorority, currently volunteer for animal shelter, avid diver, speak Spanish fluently
    Profile: 27 year old white female

    Work history:
    Grew up in a family business – a mid-sized, family-owned hotel company with 44 properties and over 10,000 rooms worldwide (mostly the Pacific and Asia).
    Member of Advisory Board of Directors for family business for 8 years. Served as secretary and president of the Advsiory Board.

    Have been employed by luxury destination club startup owned by Steve Case for 3.5 years (no relation to family business).
    Promoted multiple times, now hold a coveted position in a two-person department for a program I helped start and make profitable. This program accounts for a significant percentage of the club’s annual portfolio and has tripled in size since I was brought on to develop it two years ago.
    In my position, I design, scout, and execute luxury chartered travel experiences for the members of the club, such as customized safaris, expeditions to Borneo,etc. I also manage the finances and budget of the department, supply many of the photographs, and write the marketing copy. I spend about 30% of the year traveling abroad for work.

    Why MBA?: It is my goal to one day run our family business and help it grow globally so it is not so centered in Hawaii, where it is vulnerable to many outside factors. However, I do not want to work for my family company until I have built up enough experience and education to be a contributing leader who can bring outside experience into a very traditional company and hopefully re-invigorate it.
    As an English major, I need the quantitative background. I can feel that I am weak in that area in managing the budgets for my department currently and want those skills to become more second nature.
    On a more short-term basis, I’d like to develop my career with my current company, so would like to augment my leadership and stategic global knowledge for this newly-minted department.

    Where would I apply?:
    Stanford (brother just graduated from GSB in May and father, sister, and niece all went to undergrad there)
    Harvard (father went there for medical school)

    Any insight would be greatly appreciated! I’ve been planning on applying to business school for the last two years, but have been offered advancement opportunities at work that I could not pass up. Now, next year is the last year my GMAT scores are valid.

    Thank you!
    Anne Marie

  • Ms. Smith

    Forgot to point out, 25 year old white female

  • Ms. Smith

    Hi Sandy, thank you in advance for your help and insight.

    – GMAT 680-700 (taking this winter). Assume GRE is discouraged
    – GPA 3.6, BS Finance, minor Econ, University Honors diploma
    – Big 10 school with well-known business school
    – Served on business school honors mentorship committee, Dean appointed to serve on Committee for Fee Review to determine university-wide student fees in excess of tuition, research assistant for MBA professor
    – In third year at top 4 management consulting firm (ie not BBM, but right up there). Have spent a decent amount of time in health care/life sciences, am currently working on postdigital innovation in the health industries, spending some time working in India with a third party developer
    – One of three serving on national board for program that leads student business-oriented service trips to Latin America, the board is driving expansion into corporate-lead groups
    – Involved in many firm-related activities, realize that is less important
    – Why MBA? Use the broad range of skills I have gained in consulting to become more targeted and focused, and work in internal strategy and innovation at an international life sciences company (interested in the opportunity to work on developing world solutions)
    – Why Europe? Want to work internationally after school, develop a European network, more companies there work in the (E)MEA region
    – Where? LBS, INSEAD, would consider INSEAD Singapore. Welcome your suggestions for stateside schools as well

  • Keristase

    Interesting postings. Read through a number of them but wanted to get your input

    Education: Little Ivy (Williams/Amherst/Swat) with a 3.7 overall GPA and a 3.9 GPA in my major (Econ). Graduated with Latin and Departmental Honors.

    Scores: GMAT: 720 (94% or something like that)

    Professional History: Spent two years at Bain Consulting before transitioning into a small equity hedge fund (~$250M when I started in 2008) which is now a mid sized hedge fund ($1B or so) for about 3.5 years (outperformed the market by 10%+ without leverage). Was the third man on the investment team and now have an idea generation role along with recruiting and training of new analysts.

    President and founder of a number of clubs, sat on a number of advisory boards to college executive leadership (diversity boards, career services boards, lecture committees). Managed a budget of roughly $10K for a student org in college. Also had a hand in developing alumni relationships for the career services (I developed and ran a program to bring back alums in financial services, consulting, and corporate work to my alma mater to give speeches, run informal recruiting and interview prep)

    Outside of college, sat for the level 1 of the CFA (and that studying is continuing), plus manage the Linkedin presence for my alma mater.

    Ethnicity: Chinese (born in the US), currently 26 years old.

    Goal: Starting a full service investment management boutique. I think I have the investing bones to do it, but the problem is that investment management doesn’t teach you anything about how to manage and understand people.

    From my perspective, too many investment firms fail due to a lack of basic management blocking and tackling (things like compensating folks effectively with both tangible and intangible rewards, things like effective knowledge management and diffusion, things like having set succession paths and leadership development avenues). B-school would fill those gaps.

    Targets: Harvard/Stanford/Wharton. would also be curious about Columbia/Sloan

  • Mr P&C

    @ Dan thx for comment. Where else did you look?

  • The Chipper Guy

    Hi Sandy, John,
    Re posting:- Would really appreciate of you could ponder over my profile and provide a feedback.

    The Chipper Guy: Indian, Male, Semiconductor Engineer, 28 years Old
    GMAT 720 (94%tile) (Q -92%tile, V -81%tile)
    Undergraduate- Reputed and very selective Private Indian Engineering college (GPA 7.5/10), 2006. Actively involved in extra curricular- Club president and organized student body for cultural activities and managed funds for mega events
    Graduate – MS from private US Univ (GPA 3.8/4.00), 08 -Full funding/scholarship and have various publications. Had acquired corporate sponsorship of USD 400K for research work..
    Work Exp: Working in one of the world’s most state of the art semiconductor manufacturing facility. Have worked as a lead on manufacturing floor managing 15 people and very expensive equipments in rotating shifts . I have recently been a founding member of a new team/ group, coordinating a lot of global projects for worldwide manufacturing sites. But company is neither a MBA feeder nor a MBA recruiter.
    Extra curricular: Involved in welfare and community events to help poor and unprivileged with health related issues through camps, along with active involvement in Alumni events (coordinating salvaged equipment donation from Company to Univ Lab) and K-12 activities including tutoring and mentoring..
    Goal: Short term Strategy Consultant; Long term start my own company that will make innovative products at low cost for third world countries.

    Schools: Tuck, Sloan, Booth, Kellogg, Haas, Columbia, Stern, Wharton, HBS

    The Chip(per) Guy

  • scgrad

    Hi Sandy/John,

    I love the work that you do for the site, and I believe you provide great advice. Could you please assess my situation.

    GPA: 3.2 from SEC school
    3.7 Master’s of Accountancy
    GMAT: 700
    CPA in state of New York

    I have worked in the Assurance practice for 2 years (will be 3 by the time I enroll) at PwC mainly working on Public Companies in the Entertainment and Media industry. I want to transition my career towards IB or PE. For extracurriculars, I have been part of a mentoring program in New York for about 6 months where we meet with underpriviledged high school kids that are bright and have a solid future ahead of them. In addition, I have been helping out a friend who has launched is own daily deal site (think groupon) that is eco friendly and benefits locals schools.

    My target schools are:

  • Handshakefulness

    Hi John and Sandy,

    This is a great series, very entertaining to read and informative. I’ve included my info below and would appreciate it if you could take a look and give me any feedback

    I haven’t yet taken the GMAT but expect somewhere between 700-720 based on practice tests

    I graduated from an original public Ivy with a 2.76 in econ. I worked the entire time I was in college, as many as 3 jobs at once, but the real reason for the GPA is a lack of direction and the fact that I preferred sleep and drink to class. I held 2 finance internships in college and did a little better in my upper level classes once I realized that I wanted to go into finance, eventually making the Dean’s List and earning a small scholarship from my fraternity. Still not enough to help and the GPA will be a hard obstacle to overcome.

    After school I spent just under 3 years as a proprietary equity trader for (at the time) the largest prop fund in the world. I then transitioned to an analyst role with one of the 2 main venture banks where I have had a fairly fast rise with 3 promotions in the 21 months that I have been here. I currently underwrite and restructure deals for our distressed credits/assets group, and I know that I can expect similar career growth for at least the next year or so. I also know that I can expect excellent references from senior management.

    Our bank doesn’t hire analysts without prior full-time finance or banking experience, and since I have been here I have known only 4 people who applied to B-school. Of those, 1 will attend a top 5 school, 1 is attending a top 10 school, 1 is attending a top 20 school, and the other is currently waitlisted at a top 10 school after applying first round.

    My extra curriculars in college involved a small role in student government, a leadership role in my fraternity, and several jobs. I’ve mostly been self-focused (diving, heli-skiing, sailing, etc.), but I’ve been a team leader for an annual MS Walk and have been active in another MS organization that provides scholarships. I also spent a summer teaching English at a small public school in Costa Rica while I was still trading, and I may start serving on the board of a local literacy organization

    I’m a 27 year old Caucasian from a pretty typical lower-middle class background; my parents were both in public education. I’ve been pretty lucky since college and have saved enough to pay for b-school out of pocket, so I won’t need financial aid if that helps.

    I have no illusions of H/W/S, but I was curious what schools might be in my wheelhouse and how much of a stretch it would be to break into the top 10-15 if I really nailed the GMAT

    Thanks to both of you for taking the time to work on this column!

  • Sandy

    Hi Sandy –

    I love your column and find your analysis very helpful! Could you look at my stats?

    GPA – 3.2 (double major in finance and statistics from a top quant school)
    GMAT – 670 (low verbal)

    26 years old chinese american female
    US and Hong Kong citizen
    1st generation college graduate

    2 years of 2nd tier investment banking analyst experience in NYC
    1 year of 2nd tier investment banking associate experience in Hong Kong
    1 year of 2nd tier investment banking associate experience in back in NYC

    Worked at the same 2nd tier investment bank for 4 years – was promoted early – worked and closed high profile deals

    Goal – PE in China


  • Sandy

    Hi Sandy –

    I love your column and find your analysis very helpful! Could you look at my stats?

    GPA – 3.2 (double major in finance and statistics from a top quant school)
    GMAT – 670 (low verbal)

    26 years old chinese american female
    US and Hong Kong citizen
    1st generation college graduate

    2 years of 2nd tier investment banking analyst experience in NYC
    1 year of 2nd tier investment banking associate experience in Hong Kong
    1 year of 2nd tier investment banking associate experience in back in NYC

  • Vikram

    Hi Sandy/John,

    Below are my credentials for a profile evaluation. Thanks.

    GPA: 3.63 overall, 3.91 major (finance)
    College: NYU Stern
    GMAT: 710; V 83%ile, Q 88%ile
    Other education: Passed all levels of the CFA and FRM exams
    Work experience: Since the past two years, I have been working at a well-known investment management company that runs hedge funds and mutual funds. I focus on determining the right levels of leverage and financing across all funds and strategies. I have also spent one year each doing sales (2008-09) and consulting (2009-10) at other, well-known financial service firms.
    Extracurricular: Help raise financing since the past three years for an education foundation focused on educating underprivileged children in rural India. Also helping the foundation restructure its teaching model.
    Age: 26 year-old Indian male, US citizen. Lived in India till age 13 before moving to the US.
    Goal: To gain a deeper understanding of all facets of business in order to become a successful CFO of a global firm.
    Schools (all Round 1 applications): H/S/W, Kellogg, Booth, Columbia, MIT, Tuck

  • Sandy,

    I can’t get enough of this column! I enjoy the fresh perspective and reminder that we all take ourselves too seriously. I would love to get your thoughts on my profile:

    Thank you in advance!

    700 GMAT (97% verbal/59% quant). Took twice, first time got a 670.
    3.7 GPA, deans list most semesters
    Undergrad from Cornell.
    English major w/ Information Science concentration.
    TA for intro web design course, taught 30-student section for two years.
    Writer for school newspaper, published poetry.

    Work Experience:
    -Three internships with bulge bracket investment bank in fixed income research in NYC
    -2 years as top-ranked investment banking analyst with another bulge bracket investment bank L.A.
    -4 years as top-ranked Associate (as of matriculation) at middle-market private equity firm in L.A.

    Extra-Curriculars: Leadership role in Alumni club, webmaster/technology consultant for small business. Owned computer repair business through high school and college.
    Launched a web business with a family member and currently developing an iphone app. Financial thriller novel in progress.

    Goals: Round out my investing experience with practical skills in how to run a business, then join a turnaround private equity firm after MBA. Gain hands-on experience in operations, then eventually acquire my own businesses (much as a private equity firm does).

    Personal: White male, father of one-year-old son.
    Age: 28

    Applying to: Harvard, Tuck, Cornell, Fuqua

  • Ranjit

    Hi John,
    Here are my stats. I hope that it gets selected for one of the future evaluations that will be done by Sandy.

    Age: 24 (Am turning 25 in a month). I am hoping to matriculate at the age of 27.

    I hold an Indian passport. I am also a permanent resident of the United States (green card holder). I have never lived in India though; I was born and brought up in Dubai, UAE.

    GMAT: 770
    TOEFL: 118/120

    Languages: English, Hindi, Basic Arabic, Rudimentary Mandarin (I’ve been learning for about a year)

    Undergraduate studies: B.E.(Hons) in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from the Dubai satellite campus of a well ranked Indian University. This university ranks just below the IIT’s in the Indian rankings, I would like to say definitely in the top 5-10. GPA: 3.8/4.00

    Graduate School: M.Eng in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. GPA: 3.5/4.00

    Work Experience: I have working for about 2.5 yrs now in the offshore energy/maritime sector in a Houston-based non-profit company that develops safety rules and standards for these industries. My role is in the Electrical team in the R&D division of the company. The products of my team and our division in general are used throughout the industry.
    My company is quite well known to people within the industry; it is about 150 years old and has about 40 offices worldwide with total employee strength of about 4000. I don’t think it is considered as a feeder organization, though there are some VP’s with MBA’s from Wharton and Booth. For what it’s worth, many of the top management (Chairman, CEO, COO, Senior VP’s) are graduates of the Advanced Management Program at Harvard.
    I have started managing some small projects of late (around $150,000 – $200,000). I am hoping that I will get chances to manage bigger projects in the coming 1-2 years.
    I have also started conducting training presentations for the Academy arm of the company to employees that are brought in from around the world. (Again, for what it is worth)

    Extra-Curricular activities: I am a bit of a ‘late-bloomer’ in this category. I wasn’t all that active in my college years. I was in a few committees in undergrad and played Table tennis, nothing much apart from that. I have been volunteering to teach English at a local non-profit to refugees and asylum seekers. This has been going on for about 1.5 years now. Me and two friends of mine have also created a $2000 /year scholarship fund that we distribute to financially deserving students in undergrad government colleges in S. India, mostly for those enrolling in engineering programs.
    Target Schools: I don’t think I am HBS/ Stanford/Wharton worthy, though I would like to know what Sandy thinks my chances are. Realistically, I would like to know my chances at MIT Sloan, Kellogg, Booth, UT Austin.

    Main aim in getting an MBA : I am right now in a very technical role at work. I hope to use the MBA to know more about the business side of things, after which I want to work in a top management consulting firm with a focus on the energy sector. After a few years of strategy and general business training at a management consulting firm, I hope to transition into a business development role in a company in the traditional energy sector or even the renewable energy sector if it turns out to have good prospects then.

  • Jules

    Hi Sandy, Hi John:
    I am submitting my profile again in hope that it will of interest for you to handicap my odds. I would be much grateful if you can review my profile. Thanks in advance.

    Undergraduate degree majoring in accounting and finance from a top British university. Graduated with an upper second.

    Work experience:
    Have 4 years of working experience. Worked for about one year in KPMG (consulting side). Completed a one year management trainee program in a local boutique investment bank. Am currently working in an investment company handling the real estate portfolio.

    Held leadership roles in various volunteering projects in university. Managed to turnaround an ailing volunteering project whereby I raised all funds to cover the debt owed and operating expenses, recruited all volunteers and promoted the projects in various events.
    Currently spearheading a fundraising initiative for a human right NGO.

    Additional points:
    Asian female (not from china and india)
    International exposure: Studied in Japan to pursue the language. Volunteered in wild life hospital in Australia. Studied in the UK. Love to travel.
    Fluent in 5 languages.

    To work in a PE / investment management firm focusing in real estate investment

    Target schools:

  • Mr Telco

    Hi Sandy, appreciate if you can provide some feedback into my odds of getting into my target schools. Thank you very much.

    Mr Telco

    – 27 year old male, Malaysian citizen
    – Fluent in English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Malay/Indonesian

    – 700 GMAT
    – 1st Class Honours (3.7 GPA)
    – Undergraduate degree in engineering from a top Australian university
    – Undergraduate paper in Innovation Strategy published at the proceedings of an international peer-reviewed conference

    – 5 years operations and system implementation consulting experience in Accenture with Asian telecommunications clients (Based 1 year in Korea, and multiple projects in ASEAN region)

    – Worked on a program to build homes in Africa with Habitat Humanity
    – Volunteered on a 6 month social entrepreneurship project in India

    -To get into strategy consulting at MBB and lead the strategic transformation of the Asian telecommunications/media/high-tech industry

    Target Schools (in order of preference):

  • Mr. International


    If you could please include my profile into evaluation by Sandy? I would really appreciate that!

    GMAT 2nd attempt 750 1st 690
    GPA 3.3 finance GPA: 3.9
    B.S. in finance from a relatively well-known state university
    work experience (in chronological order)
    3 years as corporate finance analyst at a textile/clothing manufacturer (major supplier to famous clothing companies/ 100 mil annual rev)
    2 years at city hall ministry of finance & economy (current)
    internships at big banks, consulting firms(think Merrill Lynch/Wells Fargo Securities, KPMG/PWC/Deloitte)

    active leadership role(president) at a global college Christian mission organization, led project teams to Thailand, etc. led/coordinated annual conference for 1500 people size, fundraisers, active participation at global outreach organization(think World Vision, Habitat of Humanity)/translating volunteer for communication between sponsors and third world children, active involvement at social welfare program sponsored by city, educational program for children from low-income families, put together a scholarship fund.

    Fluent in Japanese, Korean, English
    Passed Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT)(highest level)
    Cross-cultural background (lived in the Middle East [think Iran, Dubai] Japan, Korea, and US)
    CFA level 1
    Reapplicant [applied for class of 2013 with 690 GMAT and 3 years of experience; got dinged w/o interview @ Columbia, Cornell, UCLA, received interview invites from UT Austin, Indiana, waitlisted at USC)

    to transition to corporate finance role at Investment banks, consulting, or BIG 4 financial advisory to help companies raise money, capital structure restructuring, financial planning strategic advice


    28 at matriculation

    Ethnicity: Asian male(international)


    Harvard, Wharton, Columbia, Cornell, UCLA, NYU, Duke, UNC, CMU, Indiana, USC

  • The Israeli

    Dear Sandy,

    Would highly appreciate your opinion on my profile, since it could influence a career change in the next few months.

    Age: 25 White Male
    GMAT: 720 Q49 V38
    Toefl: 110
    GPA: 3.72 (We have a different scaling method than the one used in the States. My GPA is 93 (on a scale of 100), which translated to the aforementioned).
    Studied accounting and economics at Tel aviv university, which has the highest admissions requirements for those subjects among other higher education institutions in Israel. Nominated several times on the dean’s list, and received scholarships. Graduated both accounting and economics as magna cum laude (probably somewhere around the top 3%).

    At the age of 18 took one year to participate in a year of community service. I was a “Comunar” – which is like being a tribe leader in the scouts. During that year I was responsible for 100 children of various ages.

    Served in the Israeli defense force for 3 years as an analyst at the intelligence corps. After being discharged, started my BA.

    During my second year in school worked for 9 months as a Psychometric instructor, which is Israeli equivalent to the SAT, following a 2% mark in that test.

    While in school, volunteered as a team leader in Junior Achievement Israel – a non-profit organization which aims at increasing entrepreneur spirit among children, and was the Tel Aviv University debating club president (ranked as one of the best clubs in Europe).

    Since graduation (Aug 2011) works at one of the big four (Accounting) in Israel, in the audit department focusing on SEC regulated companies. I was chosen to participate in the office’s excellence program in which prospect interns get an early training in order to broaden their perspective on various business issues. Would have 2 years of work experience in that office upon starting the MBA.

    Extras including practicing sports – squash, ski, gym, beach volleyball.

    Wants an MBA in order to get into IB in the states. Applying next year for the class of 2015.
    Target Schools:

    About that career change: I read your former posts (highly informative by the way) and realized that while considered a selective position in the Israeli job market, working in one of the big-4-audit department will not drive me into top schools. Consequently, wanted do get your opinion about moving to the advisory services department – would that make any difference with my acceptance chances?
    Considering that I would only have about a year and four months of work experience in the advisory services department (and 8 months in the audit department) in comparison to a full 2 years in the audit department.

    Thank you very much.
    The Israeli.

  • SolarGirl

    Hi! I love this series. Would you please assess my own chances of getting in to the schools of my choice?

    -760 GMAT (47 V, 48 Q, 4.5 AW)
    -3.42 GPA / 3.58 major GPA / 3.73 last two years GPA
    -Worked through college, took semester off then came back, got great grades and graduated early
    -BA from top five liberal arts college
    -Philosophy major, English minor
    -1.5 yrs work experience at a “green jobs” non-profit with social enterprise efforts, then 2 yrs in solar energy as a Project Manager (plus years of fancy waitress jobs)
    -26yo Caucasian woman
    -No core business coursework besides for perfect grades in AP Calculus, my written response to schools that ask is that I use econ and finance every day at work
    -Long list of extracurriculars, volunteering and community service
    -Essays on need for business strategies in clean tech, value of business approaches to social/environmental issues, overcoming significant family hardship, goal to return to solar finance leading operations

    Applying to: Yale (top choice), MIT, UT Austin, UNC Kenan-Flagler & Boston University – is this an appropriate range?


  • AS

    As per Sandy’s advice, posting profile below. I need to know if I should invest time in re-taking the GMAT at this time. Aim to Apply Round 1 for class starting 8/2013.
    Target Schools: HBS, Wharton & Yale
    Rationale for B-School: I want to be a C-level executive some day, will probably come back to banking after MBA. With fast promotions (promoted thrice in 4 years), the cost benefit analysis with a lower ranked school doesn’t work out. If I am not admitted to the three schools above, or to Booth & Kellog in Round 2 – I will probably aim for EU Schools (INSEAD, IMD, LBS) or an EMBA program at Columbia U.
    BACKGROUND – Education: Small Liberal Arts School in NJ (not well known) – Major Financial Economics; Minor: Math Overall GPA: 3.92 – Summa cum Laude, Best in class, Honor student, numerous honor societies etc.
    Work: June 2007 – March 2009: Joined Citi as a Management Associate (rotation program with focus on leadership)
    March 2009 – April 2010: Promoted to Asst. Vice President (usually takes 3-4 years, promoted in 2 year) – Lots of Large deal
    April 2010 – Present: Promoted to VP (usually takes addition 3-4 years, promoted in 1 year) – Lead a lot of projects
    4.5 years work ex, majority in in-business risk management for 3 different parts of citigroup’s business – will have 5 at the time of application and 6 before grad school
    (iv) GMAT score: 690, 88% – Q45 – 71%; V39 – 87% – waiting for AWA
    (v) AGE and gender: 27 and Female
    (vi) have you ever applied before and what outcomes – NA
    (vii) and please tell us the search engine or other way you heard about Cambridge Essay Service – I saw Sandy’s name in cnn money a while back, just kept it in mind till I gave the GMAT
    (viii) mention any powerful extra curricular activities, in college or recently
    College: founded Women in Business group & president
    Recently: Lead major consulting project for Accion Microfinance – Aiming for an office position in Jan 2012
    (ix) also real, real important, over the past three years, how many kids from your employer have applied to H/S/W and what were the results. If you don’t have exact figures, just give us your best estimates – I’ll have to ask around around… will provide a decent estimate later – I am guessing numerous as HBS/Wharton/Columbia & NYU has a special presentation for us when we join as analysts to consider an MBA

  • Mr. Turnaround (aka Mr. Nomad)

    Forgot to add: I work at a foreign policy advisory as a research assistant now as well half-time.

  • Mr. Turnaround (aka Mr. Nomad)

    Dear Sandy and John:

    Thanks for the series. Highly informative and very well written!

    My story: I am a grad student in international relations and international economics. Immediately after college, I aggressively pursued the foreign affairs/international development path, but now I’m trying to move out of the government/international development path. Due to budget cuts, the government is increasingly unable to implement policy, which is what I wanted to work on.

    My main problem is that if I leave international development/government, my work experience screams communications, which is not what I want to do at all. Despite playing up the econ and finance coursework, no private sector organization is biting. I have been in interviews for quant or econ analysis positions, and then they introduce me to their communications chief “just to chat” and then two days later I get an email saying “we can’t offer you the economic analyst job, but we would love to offer you the communications job (which I did not apply for and never demonstrated an interest)”. I feel like I need nothing short of an MBA to establish my quantitative bona fides.

    I want to be a turnaround specialist for distressed organizations. My pitch is that since I’ve tried to help societies get out of their lowest point, I want to help organizations down on their luck do the same.

    -26 year old Caucasian male.
    -GMAT: estimate 740 (I took two practice tests and that’s the average. Plan on taking it in late Feb/very early March)
    -Undergrad: Top 10 liberal arts college in econ and Russian (my college’s very well known for the econ department)
    -Undergrad GPA: 3.6
    -Grad Program: #1 or #2 IR program in the US. For IR practitioners, I have been told it’s far and away the best program in the world, if anything for the alumni network and rigor. Also, it’s strong in econ.
    -Grad GPA: 3.5 (in progress)
    -Languages: Russian (fluent), French (reading and writing- fluent, speaking conversational), Spanish (conversational)
    -Extracurriculars: some elected student gov’t positions (youngest Senator in my college freshman year… 15 of us to represent 1200, did that three times in total), taught English as second language off and on for a long time (for seven years), was the Russian Department liaison my senior year (so headed their publicity for students, answered questions about the program, etc.), volunteered for development at a local art museum
    – Work experience:
    Between junior and senior year of college, I took a year off. for six months I interned full time for a US Senator in constituent services and then I interned at the US Embassy in Georgia in public affairs for three months.

    -Immediately after graduation, studied in Georgia for three months only to have the Russians invade. I couldn’t stay.

    -After a brief search, I worked at a top think tank (Brookings/Rand) as an admin assistant for nine months.

    -While I was looking for a job, I also applied to grad school. I didn’t think that I would get into my dream program, but I did. So I left the think tank.

    -Took a sabbatical from grad school to be an economic analysis research assistant in a UN agency in Bangkok (to strengthen the quant skills) for six months.

    -Then I worked as a jack of all trades assistant at a public health NGO in Afghanistan for 6 months.

    -Went back to grad school where I am now. I graduate in May.

    -During last summer, I volunteered at the Burmese dissident newspaper in Thailand after my internship in political risk fell through.

    – Study abroad: Russia, one year. Georgia, three months.

    I can get very good recommendations.

    Schools: Where do you think I should apply? Should I apply 3rd round?


  • JH

    Dear Sandy and John,

    Thanks for this series – it’s been really helpful. While reading through the profiles, I have been wondering about one thing though:

    Is a higher GPA from a lower ranked school better for the applicant than a lower GPA from a higher ranked school? For example, 3.7 from UCLA vs 3.4 from Stanford. Or 3.7 from CSU Northridge vs 3.4 from Stanford.

    Thanks, and happy holidays!

  • Mr. Southern Nuke

    Sandy and John I’ve enjoyed reading this series! Here’s my profile.

    Age: 25 White Male
    GMAT: 740 49Q 44V
    GPA: 3.47
    B.S. Chemical Engineering from The University of South Carolina (Honors College)

    -3 years progressive responsibility at AREVA (French owned world leader in Nuclear Power Industry)
    -Competitively selected for 3yr corporate Leadership Development Program (During first year of employment)
    -Recently led team of 8 engineers in developing and presenting $20 million proposal for nuclear safety systems during a field deployment in Holywood, AL
    -My latest performance evaluation rated me in the top 1% of performers

    -Co-developed a pro clean energy blog (I authored a blog published by National Review Online)
    -Co-founded a chapter of North American Young Generation in Nuclear at the Nuclear Site in Alabama

    College/Community/Volunteer Stuff:
    -Emergency Department and Operating Room volunteer for 10hrs/wk at local hospital for 2 yrs in college
    -Chemical engineering co-op at a nylon manufacturing plant owned by Koch Industries for roughly 12 months during my junior/senior years of college
    -Captain of several intramural sports teams (Cheesy but my co-ed Frisbee team won the Championship)

    I want to continue my evolution from engineer to business leader. I need an MBA to gain the hard business skills and perspectives that will allow me transform into a leader capable of steering the energy industry into a more sustainable future.

    Target Schools:

    I would appreciate any feedback you can give me. Happy Holidays!

  • InternationalGuy

    Dear Sandy and John, this is a fantastic series! Would you be willing to give your opinions of my background? Thanks for providing all this great analysis.

    Demographics: 28, Asian-American male
    GRE: 1500 (710V / 790Q / 4.0AWA), translates into 750 GMAT according to ETS
    Languages: advanced Spanish, high intermediate Italian, intermediate Korean
    Undergrad: 3.40 from Rutgers Business School, majors in accounting and economics. Extracurriculars included work study jobs, internships with major companies, and a year with the Rutgers club volleyball team.
    First job (2005-08): public accountant at Deloitte. Worked there 2.5 years.
    CPA: passed exams in 2005-06, obtained license in 2007
    Volunteer experience (summer 2007): volunteer English teacher in rural village in Costa Rica
    Grad school (2008-10): 3.44 from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced Int’l Studies (SAIS); Master of Arts, international relations and international economics. One year study abroad in Italy. Extracurriculars included membership on a student government committee.
    Internship (summer 2009): improving management policies in the microfinance department of an NGO in Paraguay
    Internship (fall 2009): research intern at Washington, D.C. think tank
    Second job (2010-12): emerging markets analyst at small research firm in City of London. Do political and economic analysis plus economic forecasting of emerging markets, write articles and reports, participate in client meetings, and respond to media inquiries. 1.5 years experience.
    CFA: passed Level I exam in June 2011, sitting for Level II in June 2012
    Current extracurriculars: preparing for CFA and writing first novel

    Goal: To work at the intersection of emerging markets, finance, and entrepreneurship/strategy – whether through consulting, private equity-type work, or general management
    Already admitted to IE Business School Int’l MBA in Spain, awaiting decision for Fulbright scholarship.
    Waiting to hear from HBS, interested in seeing probabilities for other top programs.

    I’d really appreciate your feedback. Thanks!

  • Prophet2216

    I sincerely appreciate what you are doing, so, at the first, thank you. Now, I think I may have an experimental case for you to profile:

    32 yr old male
    690 GMAT
    3.6 gpa in history from top 20 university

    3 years ib analyst at Morgan Stanley
    2 years investment associate at a top 3 endowment ($10bn + in size)
    2.5 years private equity fund doing acquisitions and portfolio management – was laid off in mid 2009 (firm-wide downsizing)

    Since layoff, have consulted for various firms on a contract basis, with a
    primary focus on fund of funds. To that end, I’ve found an unsaid MBA requirement in the market, hence, I’m applying to:


    In terms of extracurriculars, I am involved in 3 scholarships (one of which I started), and am a producer in an off-broadway play and a movie(just submitted to Cannes)

    I think I have a perspective that is unique and potentially desired by b-schools, yet think my age is a hurdle. The reason for not applying earlier is that timing was never right. I have already been rejected from Wharton and gsb. Am I kidding myself that I have a chance to get in anywhere? Thank you in advance for your help and consideration!

  • Mr. Gov’t Consultant

    I Second Mr. Irish consultant – please evaluate his profile 🙂

  • Mr. Fightin Irish Consultant

    Hi Sandy and John,

    Love the website and weekly column. Thanks for all the insight!

    – 740 GMAT (Q 50, V 39)
    – 3.85 GPA
    – Undergraduate degree in engineering from University of Notre Dame
    – Work experience 2+ years in IT consulting at Deloitte/Accenture/Booz
    – Considering switching to management consulting with current employer or, ideally, McKinsey/Bain/ BCG
    – Extracurricular: involved with local alumni club, ran a fundraiser through work function that raised over $1500 for local charity, leadership in academic societies in college
    – Goals: grow my leadership skills/network and get into strategy consulting with MBB
    – 24 year old white male

    Targets: HBS, Wharton, MIT, Columbia, Chicago, Northwestern, Michigan

    I know I am on the young side for Top 5 programs. Would a career switch to management consulting or a more elite consulting firm significantly enhance my chances?

    Happy Holidays!

  • Sam

    Hi guys, I have come to the conclusion that going to business school is the best way to save my career at this point. I would like your advice on whether to spotlight,mention, or completely ignore my CPA and passing of CFA level 3 on my grad school apps, as well as a simple profile evaluation. (I am targetting Duke, UVA, Cornell, my dream school is Columbia and Wharton, but I don’t think I have a chance with my work experience)

    I am fully bilingual in Chinese and would like to become a porfolio manager specializing in Asian equities, or a head of finance for a multional firm such as Google, Toyota.

    My background:

    26 years old, male
    720 GMAT – 47 Q, 42 V
    2008 grad from top-2 public school on the West coast – 3.43 GPA
    U.S. citizen Immigrated to the US at age of 15, speak/read/write English and Chinese with equal mastery.
    CPA licensed, pass June 2011 CFA level 3

    I worked 2 years at a small business management firm in LA right out of college. The firm serves as financial nannies for Hollywood moguls, from Russell Crowe, Sam Worthington…to JJ Abrams. We do things from paying bills, depositing checks, to financial statement compilation, investment porfolio summary, legal filings, royalty tracking, expense budgeting…

    The firm had no mobility and I thought I needed more GAAP reporting and human, inter-departmental interaction, so I became a staff accountant for a movie theatre company, and have been there since.

    I know the CFA 1 is not worth mentioning at all on applications, but what about CPA+CFA 3? Is my background interesting enough for my target schools? Or am I shortchanging myself and I’m actually good enough for top-10 schools?

    I also have a suspicion that my lack of opportunities in investment management jobs has to do more with my geographic location than anything else. Is my problem (want an analyst job) easily solved by moving to NY or Boston, where the CFA is more valued?

    Thanks to all who reply. Merry Christmas to you all!

  • enginerd

    I’m sorry for reposting everywhere, but I seem to post in an old post.
    But if you could look at my stats. Thanks.

    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

  • Dan

    Mr. P&C- You and I have a very similar path. I am headed to Emory Goizueta in Fall.
    – 670 GMAT
    – B.S., Finance & Risk Mgt/Insurance (RMI)- 3.6
    – MSM, RMI- 3.95
    – CPCU, ARe
    – Florida Future Insurance Leaders (FFIL); Captain Boosters fundraising; mentor College of Business undergrad; career development speaker
    -WE- 4 yrs, a former US Congressman and Insurance Commissioner’s firm
    – Goal- executive level at insurance company; reinsurance treaty

    Tuck, Haas, Kellogg…great schools, best of luck.

  • Ranjit,

    Yes, Sandy will continue this feature after a short holiday break. If you submit your profile again, I’ll make sure it is included in the next batch.

  • Mr. Second Chances

    Thanks so much for sharing your expertise. My resume is a bit more haphazard than most of the ones I’ve seen here, hoping you could shed some light, see if there’s any hope.

    26 year old (1/2 white/ 1/2 asian) male

    1. Undergrad: Top Public Ivy, Political Science
    2. GPA: 3.5
    3. GMAT: 720 (think I could score higher if retook, though)
    College Extracurriculars: student government Senator, fraternity Webmaster
    Work Experience:
    2.5 years as a researcher for a large financial services/news company (Thompson Reuters, Dow Jones, or Bloomberg) for the venture capital markets. Work was good, but my department got hit hard by the recession and promotions were frozen; decided to follow a pipe-dream of mine and spent…
    1 year teaching English in Asia and 4 months backpacking Southeast Asia.
    I know that I don’t immediately come across as a serious MBA candidate, but was wondering if you think there’s a chance, and if so, how could I increase my credibility? I would like to get into International Development (like everyone else, I know..). Thanks so much in advance, even if it’s a long shot!

    Schools I’d like to attend: M.I.T. Sloan, Berkeley,Kellogg , and H/S/W as very reach programs

    -Mr. Second Chance at the Corporate World

  • Mr P&C

    Mr P&C

    – 3.2 poli sci degree Pat League / 650 Gmat.
    – 5yrs of experience at only Dow 30 insurance company. $15m P&L responsibility as an underwriter. Began as intern, promoted four times.
    – C suite level recommendations
    – Earned CPCU professional designation
    – Chairman of college alumni group; director at two local non-profits. For one group I won a $10k charitable grant from my company, and lead employee engagements.
    – Why? Advance to senior management at insurance carrier or broker. Gain global experience. Few MBAs at senior levels therefore I can differentiate myself by earning one.
    – Goal – work in insurance vertical at MBB, then transition back to industry. I.e. Greg Case.
    – Targets – Tuck (EA, attended Bridge); Kellogg; Haas; Fuqua; Darden.
    – Weaknesses – Quant, should I re-take gmat again to get a 7? Quant split is unfavorable. Post bacc math class?

  • Ranjit

    John, will this column with Sandy’s evaluations continue in the near future? Can those who have posted their stats in the past, but did not managed to get them reviewed, try posting them again? Thanks.

  • Jessica

    Hi Sandy,

    Your profile evaluations are so helpful, but I haven’t seen anyone with my situation so I was wondering if you could take a look at my profile. As I am only 2 years out of school, I am not sure how this will be construed by top programs. I am eager to begin working in my field of choice, so getting an MBA now (versus working in low-level positions biding my time for a few years) makes sense.

    Thank you so much for your time in advance, truly appreciate it.

    710 GMAT (77% quant)
    3.72 GPA
    Undergrad from Ivy, majored in English and Math

    Work Experience: Four internships in Marketing and PR throughout college- job offer at top PR company worldwide following internship. 2 years working in finance; Legal/Compliance Analyst for one of the largest hedge funds-worldwide (very well respected in the finance industry).

    Extra-Curriculars: President of mock trial team, competed for 4 years in college winning multiple awards, leadership positions within sorority (Recruitment chair), selected for Greek Honors Society, Tour Guide and appointed Senior Interviewer, worked with Dean’s to make significant changes to core classes. Since college, 2 years volunteer coaching mock trial team.

    Goals: With my background in marketing/PR, hope to use an MBA to gain a better background in the fundamentals and business aspects of these fields. Ultimately strive to work as a brand manager, specializing in digital media.

    Personal: Hispanic Female
    Age: 22 (skipped a grade) (23 at matriculation)

    Applying to: Harvard, Wharton, NYU, Kellogg, Chicago, Columbia, Fuqua

  • azsx

    Sandy, so here’s a question. What happens if as a candidate to a b school, i have a 3.2 gpa but the gpa hides irregularities in consistency? A 2.0 in the first sem, 2.5 next, and then a string of near 4.0’s over the next 6 semesters. If I were an applicant to HBS 2+2, would the gpa prove reason enough to discount the application, since it does seem to be significantly below their published averages? Lets assume I have a competitive gmat, and substantiated goals, and some significant, but average joe leadership and extracurricular experience.

  • Varsity

    Hi Sandy,

    I recall from my college days that most Athletic Directors have MSc/MA degrees in Sports Science or Education. The administration experience is on the job, most were college or even professional athletes.

  • Frank,

    Stanford would probably never admit this because the official line is that you have to be accepted to both programs independent of each other. But I believe that your acceptance to the law school would definitely give you an edge at GSB as a dual-degree candidate. Good luck! And congrats!

  • Frank

    Sandy or John. thanks for the great information in this thread. I was wondering whether being already accepted into one program for a dual degree would make it easier getting accepted into the other program? Specifically having been accepted at Stanford Law School and now applying to their MBA program. Would this give the applicant any edge?