What Are Your Odds Of Getting In?

by John A. Byrne on Print Print

After spending three years as an intelligence analyst in the Israel defense forces, he’s now an auditor for one of the Big Four accounting firms in Israel. With a 720 GMAT score and a 3.72 GPA from Tel Aviv University, this 25-year-old wants an MBA to transition into investment banking in the U.S.

She’s studied in Japan and Britain, volunteered in a wild life hospital in Australia and is fluent in five languages. She now handles the real estate portfolio at an investment firm but someday hopes to work in a private equity or investment firm focusing on real estate.

After earning undergraduate and graduate Ivy League degrees in architecture, this 28-year-old had worked as an architect in New York City and is now starting a real estate development firm. A first-generation college grad, he believes the MBA degree would allow him to transition to a lucrative job for a private equity real estate fund or a real estate investment trust.

Sandy Kreisberg, HBS Guru, in Harvard Square

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 HBSGuru.com, 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 usual, 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:

Mr. Architect

  • 710 GMAT
  • 3.4 GPA
  • Undergraduate and master’s degree in architecture from an Ivy League university
  • Work experience includes two years at a global architecture firm headquartered in New York, working on large-scale, mixed-use commercial developments throughout Asia; two years at a boutique architecture/development firm in New York. Also held four different teaching fellowships while a grad student. Currently starting a real estate development firm
  • Goal:
”After graduation, would hope to work at a REIT or PE real estate fund.”
  • 28-year-old Hispanic male and first-generation college graduate

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 40+%
Stanford: 20% to 30%
Wharton: 50%
Tuck: 40-60+%

Sandy’s Analysis: Let me start with a nutty question: What was your graduate school GPA? Amazingly, it’s not super important, but more important than you probably think, given your low-ish (for HBS and Stanford) undergraduate GPA of 3.4.

Aside from that, you are real solid: first-generation college, Hispanic, male, 710 GMAT, and your goals are not that off the grid. Most MBA programs, especially large ones, have dudes transitioning from a real estate base (including engineering, construction, and architecture) into development –and of all the possible real estate origins, well, everyone loves  architects.

How come?  Might be the relative rarity, the cool clothes, taking notes on graph paper, some Fountainhead holdover (for Tea Party fans), or whatever—well, we won’t settle for whatever, check out this article at the “definitive” (in the muddled world of pop-culture criticism) Nerve website, Romancing About Architecture, Why the architect is Hollywood’s go-to male love interest. Let’s see, as the article notes, we got Joseph Gordon  in 500 Days of Summer, Sam Waterston in Hannah and Her Sisters, Steve Martin in It’s Complicated, Tom Hanks in Sleepless in Seattle and if all that is too white-bread for you, at the same website, not that I really looked,  but check out the hot picture of Wesley Snipes in Jungle Fever, surveying Annabella Sciorra, on his drafting table, with those cool ‘springy-grasshopper’ architectural lamps framing the scene.

OK, I could go on, but the issue is will adcoms, in the full light of day, fall for architects like you the same way popcorn-popping, Rom-Com addled young women do in the dark?

I don’t see why not. The fact that you work for a “global” architecture firm, headquartered in New York, man, those adcom chicks are getting weak in the knees already.

“After graduation, would hope to work at a REIT or PE real estate fund.” Ok, that’s a bummer, even without the Newt Gingrich attack ads on vulture capitalism. What the world does not need is one less dreamboat architect and one more dickhead REIT toad. Or so the prevailing wisdom is on Planet Adcom.  You should really say you want to lead a development firm that focuses on the usual blah, blah . . . sustainable development, fusion architecture (I just made that up, but I’m sure it exists, where food leads, buildings soon follow, and it builds out on your Asian experience), mixed-use stuff with rich people, poor people, and a suburban Little League team,  just like Trophy Projects x y and z.

Given how solid everything else is, I’d say you got some pretty good odds at HBS, Stanford, Wharton and Tuck. It all fits together as a story and a career, and you’re an architect!

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  • Nandini J

    And Thank you :)

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/kmatt/ Oil Baron

    Hi John and Sandy,
    I would like to know what my chances are.
    I’m a 25 year old male from India. Graduated in Mechanical Engineering from Mumbai University. GPA 0f 3.2.
    After which I worked for a year with an oil n gas service company for 1 year as a sales engineer. But handled all the projects that the company had along with strategies for future bids. I wanted to know more about the oil field and understand the oil field operations so I jumped to Halliburton as an M/LWD Engineer. Now I am leading the on field operations for north eastern India.
    I’ve been with the current organisation for over 16 months. At the time of matriculation I’d have around 4 years of work experience.
    I gave the GMAT recently and got a 690( Way below my test prep scores of 730). Planning to retake it.

    My goal is to work for one of the majors in corporate strategy, Long term I’d like to start my own consultancy for mid level oil companies.

    Target Schools:
    – Yale
    -Mc Combs

  • Wallstreet Junkie

    With that GPA, kindly forget Harvard. The rest may work out.

  • Sustainable Developer

    Hi John and Sandy,

    I have a similar, but slightly different story than Mr. Architect:

    730 GMAT

    3.75 GPA in Architectural Studies at University of Arkansas, minor in Geography. Magna Cum Laude.

    Published Senior Honor’s Thesis: a case study on two waterfront developments in San Francisco Bay Area.
    Taught microeconomics drill sessions for 3 semesters.

    Attended Summer Program at UC Berkeley in Sustainable City Planning in 2010.

    Work experience includes two years at a global building products manufacturer, promoted from a territory sales manager (with unprecedented sales growth) to an architectural solutions manager, targeting architectural firms in the Northeast, from DC to Boston. Also was selected to participate in company’s leadership development program in 2013 and selected as a mentor for the 2014 program. Working towards LEED certification (US Green Building Council).

 Going to B school to enhance my analytical skills and increase knowledge of real estate industry to work as a project manager for a real estate development firm that specializes in innovative architecture and green building, preferably in urban environments.

    Extra-curriculars: scuba divemaster (obtained while spending a summer volunteering in Honduras), competitive adult volleyball team, President of University’s club volleyball team for 3 years (finishing in top 3 at National tournament), half-marathon runner, international and domestic traveler (visited 45 states, only 5 more!).

    25-year-old white, American woman

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